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QAnon is facing a wave of bans by tech companies. These are the platforms that have and haven't responded to the conspiracy theory.

 

QAnon is facing a wave of bans by tech companies. These are the platforms that have and haven't responded to the conspiracy theory.


Facebook said its companies are cracking down on QAnon.

In this photo illustration a Facebook logo seen displayed on a smartphone. Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

On October 6, Facebook announced it would remove all pages, groups, and Instagram accounts that promoted QAnon.

The ban, which the company said would be enacted gradually, comes after the platform previously announced over the summer that it had removed 790 QAnon Facebook groups. 

Extremism researchers are tracking how the new ban will play out, as the movement has spread rapidly on Facebook and on Instagram, where many are using "Save the Children" rhetoric to further propagate the movement's misguided focus on human trafficking conspiracy theories. 

Facebook has been criticized for its slowness in acting against QAnon. 

YouTube announced a crackdown on QAnon after significant pressure, but stopped short of an explicit ban.

Mateusz Slodkowski/Getty Images

YouTube, where QAnon videos that spread the conspiracy theory have thrived and gained millions of views, said on Thursday that it would prohibit QAnon content that threatens violence against a group or individual. 

The move is part of an addition to the company's policies against hate and harassment that is focused on "conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence." 

"We will begin enforcing this updated policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come," the company said on Thursday. "Due to the evolving nature and shifting tactics of groups promoting these conspiracy theories, we'll continue to adapt our policies to stay current and remain committed to taking the steps needed to live up to this responsibility." 

The announcement, which stops short of a ban, already led to the removal of two top QAnon accounts from the platform, NBC News reported.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki had previously told CNN on Monday that the platform had not made a policy banning the conspiracy theory movement. "We're looking very closely at QAnon," Wojcicki said. "We already implemented a large number of different policies that have helped to maintain that in a responsible way."

YouTube has faced criticism for the way its algorithm can send users down rabbit holes of extremism and radicalization, often recommending QAnon-related videos and other videos containing misinformation. 

Triller said it would ban QAnon after it defended the conspiracy theory's presence on the app.

Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Triller, the TikTok rival app that previously hosted a slew of QAnon-related content, told Business Insider on Tuesday that the platform banned QAnon. Hashtag pages for "QAnon" and "QAnonBeliever" were unsearchable as of Tuesday, but "WWG1WGA" remained available as a hashtag page. 

The company said its recent decision was based on the FBI's 2019 reference to QAnon as a possible domestic terrorism threat. 

"We are a platform that believes in freedom of speech, expression, open discussion and freedom of opinion, however when the government classifies something as a terrorist threat we must take action to protect our community," CEO Mike Lu said in a statement. 

The announcement was in contrast with what Triller majority owner Ryan Kavanaugh told The New York Times just one week before. Kavanaugh said Triller did not intend to moderate QAnon, saying that "if it's not illegal, if it's not unethical, it doesn't harm a group, and it's not against our terms of service, we're not going to filter or ban it." 

Etsy, which previously hosted QAnon merchandise from third-party sellers, banned QAnon products.

QAnon conspiracy theorists hold signs during the protest at the State Capitol in Salem, Oregon, United States on May 2, 2020. Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

An Etsy spokesperson told Insider on October 7 that the company was "in the process of removing QAnon merchandise" from the platform. 

"Etsy is firmly committed to the safety of our marketplace and fostering an inclusive environment. Our seller policies prohibit items that promote hate, incite violence, or promote or endorse harmful misinformation. In accordance with these policies, we are removing items related to 'QAnon' from our marketplace," the spokesperson said in a statement. 

Etsy had been a hotbed for QAnon merchandise, including stickers, hats, apparel, and other items sold by third-party sellers on the retail marketplace.

Amazon has not taken a stance on QAnon, and continue to host and recommend QAnon products.

Screenshots show QAnon-related products available for sale on Amazon. Amazon; Business Insider

Amazon continues to host more than 1,000 QAnon-related items for sale from third-party sellers. 

When asked if the platform would remove these products, which include more than a dozen books filled with misinformation about the theory, an Amazon spokesperson said the company had no comment. 

The Amazon QAnon product landscape resembles YouTube's infamous related video recommendation algorithm. A search for "QAnon" on Amazon offers related search terms including "qanon shirt," "qanon flag," "qanon hat" and "qanon stickers and decals." 

Pinterest says it banned QAnon in 2018 and actively seeks out content related to the conspiracy theory to remove.

QAnon supporters attend a Trump rally hosted by Long Island and New York City police unions in support of the police on October 4, 2020 in Suffolk County, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

A Pinterest spokesperson told Insider that the platform actually began prohibiting QAnon content in 2018, which is quite early in the conspiracy theory's lifespan, but didn't make an announcement on it. 

"We believe in a more inspired internet, and that means being deliberate about creating a safe and positive space for Pinners. Pinterest is not a place for QAnon conspiracy theories or other harmful and misleading content," the spokesperson said.

In addition to seeking QAnon content to remove, the platform disabled search terms for "QAnon" and "WWG1WGA." 

Reddit has emerged as one of the few online communities largely devoid of QAnon.

In this photo illustration, a Reddit logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Atlantic's Kaitlyn Tiffany reported in September that Reddit had successfully rid its platform of most QAnon content, but company leadership wasn't quite sure how. 

Chris Slowe, Reddit's chief technology officer, told The Atlantic, "I don't think we've had any focused effort to keep QAnon off the platform." 

While QAnon had a big presence on Reddit in its early days, the platform was quick to ban subreddits associated with the theory as early as 2018. "Reddit has plenty of problems, but QAnon isn't one of them," Tiffany reported. 

Twitch has managed to keep QAnon content to a minimum with partial suspensions for some far-right accounts.

Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images

As Kotaku reported in September, Twitch, the streaming platform popular in the gaming community, has managed to keep QAnon communications to a minimum. 

The platform temporarily banned Patriots' Soapbox, a notorious QAnon-spreading YouTube channel, from Twitch in September. The channel only has a few thousand followers on Twitch, where it's still active as of Thursday. YouTube removed the group's main channel as part of its new crackdown, though a second version of the channel was still up at publishing time. 

Twitch's functionality makes it less of a QAnon target, Nathan Grayson of Kotaku wrote, because there's no recommendation algorithm that leads viewers down rabbit holes. 

The platform has not rolled out a specific policy on QAnon, but told Kotaku in September that "the safety of our community is our top priority, and we reserve the right to suspend any account for conduct that violates our rules, or that we determine to be inappropriate, harmful, or puts our community at risk." 

A Twitch spokesperson told Insider that the platform's guidelines "prohibit hateful conduct, harassment, and threats of violence," and that Twitch evaluates "all accounts under the same criteria and take action when we have evidence that a user has violated our policies."

Discord said QAnon servers violate its regulations and are removed from the platform.

Allmy/Shutterstock

Discord, an instant messaging application, has not made a public statement on its QAnon moderation, but the platform has been suspected of taking down QAnon-related groups. The Discord chat room for listeners of the podcast QAnon Anonymous, which analyzes and debunks the conspiracy theory and its community, has been wrongfully removed from the platform in the past. 

There have been several popular Discord chats for QAnon believers, including Patriots' Soapbox, but the platform appeared to have removed Patriots' Soapbox and other groups, according to tweets from members discussing the removal. 

A Discord representative told Insider that "QAnon servers violate our community guidelines and we continue to identify and ban these servers and users." 

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