Twitter permanently banned former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Donald Trump’s attorney ally Sidney Powell in a purge Friday of high-profile users peddling baseless, dangerous QAnon conspiracy theories.
Twitter cracked down on the same day as its historic permanent ban on Trump’s personal account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” from the president’s tweets.
Accounts touting QAnon conspiracies have been “suspended in line with our policy on Coordinated Harmful Activity,” a Twitter spokesperson told NBC News.
“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.”
Flynn, who was pardoned by Trump in November after pleading guilty to federal felonies, posted a video last year showing him taking a QAnon oath. Wild conspiracies peddled by the anonymous “Q” include belief that an elite cabal of celebrities and Democrats traffics children for sex and even sacrifices them in satanic rituals.
The Twitter account of far-right radio host Rush Limbaugh was also shut down Friday, but it wasn’t immediately clear why.
The dramatic QAnon housecleaning comes amid mounting criticism that various internet platforms were complicit in the lethal storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday by Trump supporters, including many who follow QAnon. The attack left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Critics say the social media platforms have allowed the rampant spread of dangerous lies and have provided users a means to conspire to commit violence.
In another crackdown Friday, YouTube shuttered the “War Room” podcast and an associated channel of onetime White House strategist Steve Bannon for “repeatedly violating our Community Guidelines,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. The guidelines bar videos from presenting lies about the 2020 election. The plug was pulled shortly after Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani again lied about the presidential election, baselessly claiming it had been rigged.
Reddit also on Friday terminated the “r/Donaldtrump” subreddit and banned the chief moderator for the “r/conspiracy” subreddit.
“Reddit’s site-wide policies prohibit content that promotes hate, or encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence against groups of people or individuals,” a Reddit spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement. “We have also taken action to ban the community r/Donaldtrump given repeated policy violations in recent days regarding the violence at the U.S. Capitol.”
Google also on Friday suspended right-wing social media platform Parler from the Google Play store. A Google statement said that company policies require that apps which display user-generated content have “moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence.”
After Trump’s Twitter account was banned Friday, he attempted to post messages on other accounts, which Twitter quickly swatted down. Tweets he posted to the official POTUS site were yanked. When he posted tweets on his campaign’s account, it was shut down.