Twitter has banned tens of thousands of accounts for posting content connected with the QAnon conspiracy since rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The company, led by CEO Jack Dorsey, announced in a statement on Tuesday that it had purged the platform of more than 70,000 accounts since last week, claiming that the accounts were sharing content that could “lead to offline harm.” Typically, Twitter’s mass bans have focused on fake accounts run by bots. Its latest ban has included many accounts controlled by real people, however.
Twitter’s Tuesday statement says in part:
We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon.
Many of the individuals impacted by this updated enforcement action held multiple accounts, driving up the total number of accounts impacted. Since Friday, more than 70,000 accounts have been suspended as a result of our efforts, with many instances of a single individual operating numerous accounts. These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.
Our updated enforcement on QAnon content on Twitter, along with routine spam challenges, has resulted in changes in follower count for some people’s Twitter accounts. In some cases, these actions may have resulted in follower count changes in the thousands.
A number of high-profile accounts have also been purged from the site since the Jan. 6 riot, including the accounts of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell.
On Friday, Twitter announced a permanent ban on President Trump’s personal account, which had roughly 88 million followers at the time. In banning the sitting president’s account, Twitter cited a similar reason to its mass ban on accounts posting QAnon content. The platform claimed that it had banned Trump due to the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in a statement. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.”
“However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things,” the company added. “We will continue to be transparent around our policies and their enforcement.”