Thousands of accounts linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory were banned from Twitter because of problems with harassment and misinformation, Twitter said Tuesday.
According to a company blog announcing the decision, the social media platform will cease its recommendations for accounts and content related to QAnon, including material in emails and follow recommendations. The company says it will also take steps to limit the circulation of content in features like trends and search. Over the last few weeks, more than 7,000 accounts linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory have been removed from the platform. Twitter says the bans could ultimately affect up to 150,000 accounts worldwide.
"We've been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm," Twitter's safety team said late Tuesday in a tweet. "In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called 'QAnon' activity across the service."
A spokesperson for the company told NBC News that they had taken down more than 7,000 QAnon accounts over the last few weeks for breaking the company's rules on targeted harassment. The ban will prevent QAnon-related items from appearing in trending topics and search features. The company has also taken steps to ban known QAnon-related websites and prohibit large numbers of people participating in targeted harassment campaigns.
The QAnon accounts, material and behavior of targeted harassment are classified as harmful activity.
The spokesperson for the company said Twitter acted now because of the potential for harm associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory.
QAnon shot to viral fame a few years ago amid claims that an anonymous source inside the White House is leading a secret war against a global cabal of child traffickers and Satan worshippers. The conspiracy theory grew out of Pizzagate, which claimed without evidence that a pizza restaurant in Washington D.C. was the site of a secret pedophile ring led by Hillary Clinton. Since then, the movement has grown - especially online on sites like 4Chan and Twitter - with many Trump supporters showing up to rallies and other political events with QAnon signs and support.
Following several incidents in which QAnon followers were implicated, the FBI designated QAnon as a potential domestic terrorist threat late last year.
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