Social Media Platforms Crack Down on QAnon, But Will It Make a Difference?

Various social media platforms are reportedly cracking down on QAnon. These platforms include TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube.

For quite some time now, QAnon has been a thorn in the side of people who seek the truth. The radical right wing conspiracy theory peddling group has been the cause of a lot of damage in societies around the world. This includes the encouragement of violence, threats, racism, and intimidation.

While the group can easily be ejected from more traditional media platforms, social media is a different story. With some platforms reluctant to enforce the rules on anyone who is right wing, their presence on various platforms have been allowed to fester like a boil. This has gotten to the point where so much of their presence is practically unavoidable at times. As a result, some platforms have been gradually regarded as a cesspool of disinformation and hate. Some people have, rightfully, began quitting various platforms in disgust of it all.

Unfortunately, some platforms only see numbers. With a high degree of engagement among the conspiracy theorists, some only see dollar signs as a result. So, for some, the spread of hate and disinformation has been a major boon for ad revenue for these platforms. Sure, it destroys democracy and endangered lives, but why stop this money train now? Well, as reputations declined, advertisers began questioning what they are funding in the first place. Campaigns that call for advertisers to stop funding hate cropped up and it led to boycotts. The message wound up ultimately being clear: clean up your act or see your revenue vanish.

Back in July, Twitter began cracking down on QAnon. Accounts were banned and links to certain domains were barred. While it was a decent start, it wasn’t an across the board cure to this problem either. Other major platforms had to act as well. More recently, other platforms finally began cracking down on QAnon as well. Now, we are seeing reports that the crackdown is finally tightening. TikTok is one such example. From NPR:

TikTok is toughening its stance against the QAnon conspiracy theory, expanding its ban to all content or accounts that promote videos advancing baseless ideas from the far-right online movement.

The action hardens the video-sharing app’s previous enforcement against QAnon that targeted specific hashtags on the app that QAnon supporters have used to spread unfounded theories. Now, users that share QAnon-related content on TikTok will have their accounts deleted from the app.

“Content and accounts that promote QAnon violate our disinformation policy and we remove them from our platform,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to NPR. “We’ve also taken significant steps to make this content harder to find across search and hashtags by redirecting associated terms to our Community Guidelines.”

Other platforms are also taking action as well. Another report from CTV suggests that Facebook and YouTube are also cracking down:

YouTube is following the lead of Twitter and Facebook, saying that it is taking more steps to limit QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories that can lead to real-world violence.

The Google-owned video platform said Thursday it will now prohibit material targeting a person or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify violence.

One example would be videos that threaten or harass someone by suggesting they are complicit in a conspiracy such as QAnon, which paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.

YouTube is the third of the major social platforms to announce policies intended rein in QAnon, a conspiracy theory they all helped spread.

There is a problem with all of this. Many of these crackdowns seem to be happening in the weeks leading up to the US general election. According to Vote.org, many states have already been open for early voting. By the time we got here, some might have already voted based on lies spread by the group in the first place. For states that are beginning to open up for early voting, the lies have already been spread and the influence has already taken root. Banning the accounts at this point seems to be more like closing the barn door long after the horse has left the stable.

This is not to say that it’s pointless to root out such disinformation campaigns. For many who believe in the truth, this is certainly welcome news. The problem is whether or not it is far too late at this stage. Additionally, there is always the chance that QAnon will simply find ways of working around the crackdown and circumvent the countermeasures put in place.

It’s safe to say that this has been going on for far too long. The damage is already done. The effectiveness of this latest crackdown is already questionable at this stage given that so much of the electoral process has already started. Additionally, it remains to be seen how effective this latest cleanup will be. A lot about this raises the question of how effective any of this will be in the first place. With so much reason to doubt the effectiveness, the answer may very well be “not very”.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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