YouTube announced Thursday that it will start banning certain content related to QAnon, a massive and baseless online conspiracy theory movement that has been linked to actual violence.
The online video service said in a blog post that it would remove conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence from its network. It comes after Facebook announced similar but more extensive measures, banning all QAnon content outright.
Instead, YouTube will focus on content that targets an individual or groups with QAnon-related conspiracy theories. It will immediately begin to enforce these expanded hate and harassment policies and “escalate” in the weeks to come.
“An example would be content that threatens or harasses someone by suggesting that they are complicit in one of these harmful plots, like QAnon or Pizzagate,” the ad reads.
The company argued that it had taken previous steps to limit such content, including limiting the scope of harmful disinformation through its referral system, but admitted that “we can do even more to combat certain theories. conspiracy that are used to justify violence in the real world, like QAnon ”.
YouTube is the latest platform to crack down on QAnon content ahead of the November 3 presidential election. Facebook announced on October 6 that it would ban all pages, groups and accounts related to promoting QAnon.
In July, Twitter announced a broad crackdown on QAnon content, expelling 7,000 QAnon accounts from the platform and promising to stop promoting or recommending QAnon. Twitter hasn’t fully banned QAnon from its site, but has said it will no longer make QAnon tweets or accounts visible in searches or recommendations.
But the two platforms still struggle to tamp down with the ubiquitous conspiracy theory. An Associated Press report found that, in recent weeks, content related to the mass illusion is still spreading on the social media platform. The AP discovered on Twitter more than a dozen popular QAnon accounts that collectively maintain nearly 1.5 million users, almost all recommended to users who have followed other QAnon accounts.
QAnon supporters believe Donald Trump is trying to save the world from a satanic pedophile cabal that includes Democrats, Hollywood elites and “deep state” allies. The conspiracy theory account includes centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes, such as the belief that the cabal collects the blood of abused children.
The mass delusion has been linked to a number of violent events. In 2016, a supporter of a neighboring QAnon theory known as PizzaGate traveled to Washington DC and fired shots at a pizza place he said was home to a child sex ring.
Experts call these extreme and baseless claims “incitement to violence”. The movement has been identified by the FBI as a potential instigator of domestic terrorism.
Reuters contributed to this report.