Patreon Becomes the Latest Online Platform to Boot Off QAnon Stans

Patreon Becomes the Latest Online Platform to Boot Off QAnon Stans
Graphic: Patreon

Patreon has become the latest online platform to give QAnon conspiracy theorists the boot. Please excuse me while I play the world’s smallest violin.

“Going forward, creator accounts that advance disinformation promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory will no longer be supported on Patreon,” the company said in a blog post announcing its updated policies this week.

Only “a small number” of the platform’s creators actually promoted QAnon with their work, Patreon continued, but it decided to take decisive action after seeing “a number of other online platforms become overrun with pages and groups actively focused around QAnon disinformation.”

It’s true Facebook, YouTube, and a host of other social media platforms have been playing whack-a-mole with QAnon zealots spreading the conspiracy movement and coopting otherwise legitimate hashtags to push their deranged talking points. Facebook enacted a blanket ban on QAnon groups and pages at the beginning of October. YouTube, a site’s that long been viewed as a catalyst for radicalising users through its algorithmically generated recommended videos, expanded its moderation policies banning hate and harassment last week to include conspiracy theories that have resulted in real-world violence. While YouTube mentioned QAnon among several conspiracy theories targeted by this new policy, the QAnon movement has arguably the longest track record for inspiring its adherents to commit real-world crimes, including kidnapping and even murder.

Any QAnon-dedicated creators identified by Patreon’s policy and trust and safety teams will have their accounts banned, the post added. Creators who help spread QAnon disinformation campaigns may also face action after first receiving a warning to bring their content into compliance with Patreon’s updated policies. However, creators who analyse the conspiracy movement need not worry; “mentioning, entertaining, reporting on, or debunking” QAnon conspiracy theories won’t get your account blocked, the company said.

“This policy update is exclusively addressing the propagation of disinformation related to QAnon,” Patreon explained.

If you’re unfamiliar with the QAnon conspiracy movement, consider yourself blessed. It’s a rabbit hole that only gets stranger the further you go. Essentially, it’s a crackpot group of far-right conspiracy theorists who believe a secret cohort of Hollywood actors, liberal elites, and government operatives is out to get President Donald Trump and his supporters. QAnon stans have levied a host of bizarre allegations at these so-called “deep state” agents, from Satan-worshipping to operating an underground child sex ring. The movement spawned from a series of posts on 4chan, 8chan, and 8kun, some of the darkest corners of the internet, that claimed to be from an anonymous high-level government figure named “Q.”

Despite how absolutely ridiculous it all sounds, the movement’s managed to secure a foothold across several mainstream social media platforms. QAnon-related groups on Facebook and Instagram gained an estimated 4.5 million followers over the past two years before Facebook began cracking down on them en masse in August. More than a dozen QAnon adherents have run for public office, some of which have been earned endorsements from U.S. President Donald Trump himself, who you won’t be surprised to learn has also repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory without evidence.

As for Patreon’s new policy, I say so long and good riddance. One less corner of the internet for these crackpots to congeal.