Twitter has suspended prominent backers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, citing a potential for “offline harm.” NBC News reporter Ben Collins reported the ban of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, and former 8kun administrator Ron Watkins. Other major QAnon accounts have apparently been banned as well.
Twitter told NBC News that the accounts were suspended under Twitter’s “coordinated harmful activity” ban. “We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” a spokesperson said.
Flynn and Powell have both promoted theories linked to QAnon, a sprawling conspiracy movement united against a nonexistent cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles. Flynn was convicted of lying to the FBI, but he was pardoned by President Donald Trump and has become a QAnon evangelist. Powell has been instrumental in promoting false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, leading Dominion Voting Systems to file a defamation suit against her earlier today. Watkins formerly helped run 8kun (formerly 8chan), the anonymous message board where QAnon head Q posts cryptic messages to followers. Researchers speculate Q may be multiple people, and both Ron and his father Jim Watkins have been named as potential Q authors.
Twitter is late in taking action against the group. Facebook banned QAnon content in 2020, calling the group a “militarized social movement.” TikTok likewise banned QAnon content for violating its disinformation policy. Until recently, however, Twitter hosted some of QAnon’s most high-profile figures. That included the names above, as well as David Hayes (known as “Praying Medic”), a major QAnon theory interpreter and part of a group that sued YouTube for its own QAnon crackdown last fall.
QAnon supporters were among the Trump backers who mobbed the US Capitol earlier this week, attempting to overturn the results of the US presidential election. Trump himself has also expressed support for QAnon, calling its supporters “people that love our country.”