YouTube BANS QAnon videos in crackdown on ‘conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence’
- YouTube on Thursday said it had expanded its hate and harassment policies
- Conspiracy theories targeting individuals or groups are now banned
- Google subsidiary said QAnon and Pizzagate fall under the new policies
- YouTube vowed to ‘ramp up’ its crackdown in the coming weeks
- Last week, Facebook banned QAnon and accounts that promote it
YouTube has banned videos promoting QAnon, cracking down on videos that target an individual or group with ‘conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence.’
The online video service, owned by Google parent Alphabet, said on Thursday that it would begin enforcing expanded hate and harassment policies immediately and would ‘ramp up’ in the weeks to come.
QAnon is a sprawling conspiracy theory that preposterously claims President Donald Trump is secretly battling a cabal of child-sex predators that includes prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and ‘deep state’ allies.
The conspiracy theory also borrows from the bogus Pizzagate theory, which held that a pedophile ring was being run out of the basement of a pizza restaurant in Washington DC.
A man holds a Q sign and waits in line with others to enter a campaign rally with President Donald Trump in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in August. YouTube has now banned QAnon
YouTube said in a statement that it would now ‘prohibit content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence.’
‘One example would be content that threatens or harasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon or Pizzagate,’ the company added.
‘As always, context matters, so news coverage on these issues or content discussing them without targeting individuals or protected groups may stay up,’ YouTube said.
QAnon was first spawned in 2017 by anonymous posts on the discussion board 4Chan, with the poster claiming to be someone who held Q clearance, the highest level of classified access in the Department of Energy, including nuclear secrets.
The conspiracy theory has exploded in popularity in right-wing circles, painting Trump as a heroic figure opposing the dark forces of evil arrayed against him.
QAnon supporters often use the slogan WWG1WGA, which stands for ‘Where We Go One, We Go All,’ and the movement has expanded its appeal by purporting to be based on anonymous ‘drops’ of secret information that proponents can scrutinize and analyze for themselves.
QAnon supporters are seen in a file photo. QAnon was first spawned in 2017 by anonymous posts on the discussion board 4Chan
The fringe online beliefs have spilled over into troubling acts in the real-world, and the FBI has classified QAnon as a potential source of domestic terrorism.
On June 15, 2018, Matthew Phillip Wright of Henderson, Nevada, was arrested on terrorism charges for blocking the Hoover Dam in an armored truck, claiming he was on a mission for QAnon.
In December 2018, a California man was arrested with bomb-making materials he intended to use to ‘blow up a satanic temple monument’ in the Springfield, Illinois Capitol rotunda to ‘make Americans aware of Pizzagate and the New World Order, who were dismantling society,’ according to a leaked FBI memo.
The QAnon theory has also entered mainstream politics. Georgia Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene has promoted the theory.
Lauren Witzke, the GOP’s nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware, has promoted QAnon on Twitter and been photographed wearing a ‘Q’ shirt, although during the campaign she distanced herself from the movement.
In Colorado, restaurant owner Lauren Boebert upset Rep. Scott Tipton in a GOP primary. Boebert has voiced support for QAnon conspiracy theories, though she’s since backtracked.
Trump, perhaps realizing that QAnon devotees are among his most ardent supporters, has shied away from denouncing the theory.