Twitter removed the accounts of a number of high-profile supporters of the Qanon conspiracy theory this Friday after their alleged role in spurring on the violent, pro-Trump insurgency at the U.S. Capitol building Thursday.
Among the purged were former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who not only has shown a willingness to Tweet out Q-related, conspiracy-laden messages to his followers but also sells Q-merch; Sidney Powell, the former Trump team lawyer who has made an apparent mission out of spreading claims of election fraud and conspiracy theories involving election vendor Dominion Voting Systems (which is now suing her for defamation); and Ron Watkins, son of administrator of the Q-saturated image and message board 8kun, Jim Watkins. Some people actually think Watkins is Q, the mysterious figure behind the online posts.
Watkins and Powell, in particular, 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,” NBC News notes.
“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 behaviour that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behaviour in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” a Twitter spokesperson wrote.
The Qanon conspiracy theory — which believes that a cabal of pedophile Satan worshippers is trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency — has been popular among certain segments of the Trump-supporting electorate. With yesterday’s carnage at the Capitol, researchers online were quick to analyse how the online narratives helped motivate people to turn out to the protest that turned bloody.
On top of that, some prominent Qanon supporters played very visible roles at yesterday’s maelstrom — including the face-painted, Viking-hat-sporting Jake Angeli (also known as “Q Shaman”), who, among other things, could be seen prancing around the Senate chamber, gripping a megaphone, and shouting various pro-Trump messages. Angeli, who is a supporter of the Qanon conspiracy theory, is now wanted as a “person of interest” by Metropolitan police in Washington.