Sunday, April 11

Twitter Bans Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell in QAnon Purge

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and pro-Trump attorney, Sidney Powell have been banned on Twitter as part of a purge of QAnon accounts following the insurrection at U.S. Capitol by a mob of violent Trump supporters.

QAnon is a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against US president Donald Trump, who is fighting the cabal. The wide-ranging, completely unfounded theory also claims that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and the media and this fight will lead to a day of reckoning where prominent people such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be arrested and executed.

Social media companies have been under intensified pressure to crack down on hate speech after Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol. Dozens of QAnon social media accounts were hyping up January 6 in the days leading up to a Washington, D.C., rally for Trump, expressing hope that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory would be overturned.

The permanent bans are among the highest profile that the company has instituted as part of its efforts to crack down on misinformation and calls for violence. Flynn and Powell both met with Trump at the White House in recent weeks as part of efforts to overturn the presidential election results. They are also high-profile figures in the QAnon community, and Flynn even took an “oath” to the conspiracy theory last year.

A statement released by Twitter on Friday January 8, read;

“Given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.

“The accounts have been suspended in line with our policy on Coordinated Harmful Activity.

“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.”

Twitter also removed the account of Ron Watkins, the administrator of the website 8kun, which was formerly named 8chan and hosts posts from Q, the false digital “prophet” at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

8chan changed its name last summer after white supremacists used the site to post manifestos before committing mass murder, including a terror attack at a mall in El Paso, Texas, that killed 17 in 2019.

Watkins who lives in Japan and Powell have spent recent weeks pushing false claims about Dominion Voting Systems and the company’s role in the U.S. elections, as well as targeting private citizens with false claims of election fraud. Powell was sued by Dominion Voting Systems on Friday for $1.3 billion.

This is coming after the social media platform permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account after the violence at the Capitol building. Twitter said late on Friday night that it was banning Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter, which for years resisted calls to moderate its platform, has recently taken a stronger stance against conspiracy theories that have been tied to violence, most notably the QAnon movement. In July, Twitter removed 7,000 accounts and limited many others for dabbling in QAnon. The company also designated the QAnon movement as coordinated harmful activity, meaning it was then limited from the platform’s search functions and “Trending Topics” feature.

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