Social media crackdown continues after siege of US Capitol

FILE - In this May 14, 2020, file photo, a person carries a sign supporting QAnon during a protest rally in Olympia, Wash, USA.  The social media company Twitter said Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021, it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week's U.S. Capitol insurrection. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 2020, file photo, a person carries a sign supporting QAnon during a protest rally in Olympia, Wash, USA. The social media company Twitter said Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021, it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week's U.S. Capitol insurrection. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LONDON – Social media platforms are continuing to crack down on fringe groups and conspiracy theories following last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Twitter suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy and Facebook is removing posts and content fraudulently claiming that the U.S. election was stolen as social media companies scramble to rein in harmful activity ahead of the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

Twitter said Tuesday that given the events last week in Washington, D.C., where a mob of pro-Trump loyalists tried to violently storm the Capitol building, it was taking action against online behavior “that has the potential to lead to offline harm.”

In many cases, a single individual operated numerous accounts, driving up the total number of affected accounts, the company said in a blog post.

“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,” the company said.

Twitter’s sweeping purge of QAnon accounts, which began Friday, is part of a crackdown that also includes its decision to ban President Donald Trump from the service over worries about further incitement to violence.

The suspensions mean some Twitter users will lose followers, in some cases by the thousands, the company said.

The QAnon conspiracy theory is centered on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against “deep state” enemies and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. Twitter has been trying to rein in QAnon for months, removing more than 7,000 accounts in July.