YouTube bans ‘conspiracy theories used to justify real-world violence,’ including QAnon content, amid Big Tech crackdown

YouTube bans ‘conspiracy theories used to justify real-world violence,’ including QAnon content, amid Big Tech crackdown

YouTube announced an expansion of its hate and harassment policies on Thursday, and will immediately prohibit “content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence.” The ‘QAnon’ and ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracies were cited by YouTube as examples of this content.

QAnon is a loose movement whose followers believe that President Donald Trump is waging a behind-the-scenes war against ‘Deep State’ crooks, globalist cartels, and Satan-worshipping pedophiles. ‘Pizzagate’ refers to a theory that a Democrat-linked pedophile ring operated out of the basement of a pizzeria in Washington, DC. When the theory first spread online in 2016, an armed man opened fire on the pizzeria.

Facebook and Twitter have both cracked down on QAnon content already. Facebook began removing pages linked to the movement earlier this month, while Twitter banned thousands of accounts related to QAnon in July. YouTube also rejigged its recommendations system two years ago to throttle traffic to conspiracy content – a move it says has cut views of QAnon-related channels by 80 percent since January 2019.

The latest tightening of the rules comes amid a broader restriction of speech online. In addition to banning QAnon content, Facebook has in recent weeks banned anti-vaccine and Holocaust denial content.

On Wednesday, both Facebook and Twitter banned the sharing of links to a New York Post article alleging that Joe and Hunter Biden made corrupt deals in Ukraine and China while Joe Biden was US Vice President. Coming less than three weeks before next month’s presidential election, the bans infuriated conservatives, and prompted Republican lawmakers to summon the CEOs of both firms to Capitol Hill to explain their actions.

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