Twitter wipes out thousands of non-QA accounts and some of the conspiracy’s biggest supporters
Twitter took radical action against the accounts of prominent QAnon conspiracy theory supporters on Friday night, permanently suspending former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump attorney Sidney Powell and the former 8kun administrator Ron Watkins, along with many other Q. associated accounts, from the platform, according to NBC News.
The social media company explained to NBC that the accounts were subject to the company’s “coordinated malicious activity” ban, citing concerns about online incitement leading to violence.
The suspensions came as Twitter also eliminated thousands of QAnon accounts after followers of conspiracy theory played a leading role in Wednesday’s violent raid on the United States Capitol.
Twitter also permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account, citing the risk of further incitement to violence; he said he was apparently encouraging violence by declaring he would not participate Inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
The company then played a virtual whack-a-mole game by banning several accounts that Trump seemed to take over, ostensibly in an attempt to circumvent his ban. Between Trump account tried to log in they were @TeamTrump and the campaign staff account Gary Coby.
Twitter had long hesitated to ban the president, despite repeated violations of the company’s terms of service, simply because Trump was president and his tweets were considered noteworthy. But given his role in encouraging Wednesday’s assault on the United States Capitol which left at least five dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, the company finally took action.
Several Republican lawmakers and conservative media personalities reacted quickly with indignation to the president’s ban, with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) calling it a “grave mistake”, the same day he called on Democrats to “heal. “and” move “. on ”from the violent insurrection on Wednesday in the Capitol.
“Ayatollah can tweet, but Trump can’t,” Graham tweeted. “It says a lot about the people who run Twitter.”
Twitter may ban me for it, but I gladly accept that fate: your decision to permanently ban President Trump is a grave mistake.
Ayatollah can tweet, but Trump can’t. It says a lot about the people who run Twitter.
– Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 9, 2021
The mass bans have sparked panic among conservative commentators, with several calls to nationalize social media companies to defend their right to publish hateful or potentially violent rhetoric under the First Amendment. However, the Constitution does not protect the right to incite violence.
In 1969, the Supreme Court established the Brandenburg test in Brandenburg v Ohio to determine if the speech requires First Amendment protection. The two-part test asks whether the speech is “intended to incite or produce an imminent illegal action” and whether the speech is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
The First Amendment also does not apply to private entities such as social media and tech companies, a situation that was affirmed in 2019 in a decision of the United States Supreme Court written by Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Other conservatives have begged their followers to use Twitter alternatives like Parler, an ultra-conservative social media site which claims to offer protections for unrestricted free speech while often banning dissidents and liberal trolls. However, those plans were thwarted on Friday when Google decided to remove Parler from its app store.
“We are aware of the continued publication in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the United States,” the company said. The Verge, carrying on:
We recognize that there can be a reasonable debate on content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all infringing content, but to distribute an app through Google Play, we require apps to implement robust moderation for outstanding content. In light of this continuing and urgent threat to public safety, we are suspending app listings from the Play Store until these issues are resolved.
Additionally, Apple issued a final warning to Parler on Friday, indicating it would also stop distributing the platform’s app through its app store if it didn’t immediately fix the problem with violent incitement. Vox confirmed that Parler was still available on Apple’s App Store as of Saturday morning.
Tech company moves against president and QAnon accounts when Republican lawmakers threatened to do so repeal Section 230, which allows companies to self-control their platforms as they see fit, in response to what some conservatives perceive as censorship of conservative views. In reality, social media companies have struggled to enforce their standards to conservative lawmakers, who sometimes spread wild lies and conspiracy theories on their platforms.