In another move that seems to be leaving Facebook in the disinformation dust, Twitter has stepped up and cracked down on QAnon conspiracy theory and the users that promote it.
QAnon is a loosely knit theory that holds that Donald Trump — who wishes Ghislaine Maxwell well, and that barely knew Jeffrey Epstein in all those photos and videos of the two of them together — that Donald Trump is secretly waging an undercover war against a cabal of Hollywood celebrities and DC Democrats who allegedly run a secret pedophile network, supported by the Deep State, and hold their meetings in Chuck E. Cheese’s dotted around the Potomac.
It’s the kind of online disinformation you would expect to see promoted by a Mr-number-in-their-at-handle account on Twitter, operated out of St. Petersburg, as well as unhinged extremists and vaguely interested teenagers.
But, not uncharacteristically, QAnon is also the kind of online conspiracy you would expect to see tweeted by Donald Trump, if not a normal president of the United States. And in fact, Trump has retweeted more than one QAnon theory.
The folks at Twitter have decided they’ve had enough and announced a broad crackdown on accounts related to QAnon theory.
They’ve blocked URLs associated with the idea, and say they will no longer recommend content or accounts that promote the theory.
A Twitter spokesperson said QAnon resulted in, quote, “well-documented informational, physical, societal and psychological offline harm.”
Now, this language is important. Twitter didn’t say they’d ban accounts, although one would think they will. What they said is that they’ll stop promoting content and accounts. They will stop recommending QAnon-promoting content.
Which is to say, that they’ve been recommending and promoting QAnon content.
And this isn’t a trick question to a politician from a journalist, like “When did you stop taking bribes.” It’s what Twitter is saying. We’ll stop recommending QAnon content.
Twitter is way ahead of the game by comparison to Facebook and Google, but it really begs the question: why would they be promoting this content in the first place.
And the answer is simple. It engages people. People retweet it, whether in agreement or out of outrage. And the more people engage with an advertising platform, then the more money that platform makes for its founders.
Twitter has been making money off harmful QAnon conspiracy theory. And now they say they’re going to stop. I suppose congratulations are in order.