YouTube has implemented new measures designed to limit the spread of conspiracy theories on its Google-owned video platform, especially those connected with QAnon.
The move follows steps taken by Facebook and Twitter to block QAnon in recent weeks, as well as smaller social players like Triller, Pinterest and Etsy. News coverage of the group and videos that don’t target individuals will still be allowed under the new rules, which take effect today.
QAnon, a loose collection of conspiracy theories from the dark corners of the internet, posits that powerful, elite Democrats and other prominent figures are operating a sex-trafficking ring preying on underage children. Purportedly fueled by regular information drops from a shadowy government insider nicknamed “Q,” the pro-Donald Trump group, inchoate though it may be, has fueled real-world violence and catapulted politicians into elected office in U.S. Congress and elsewhere.
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Trump himself has re-tweeted related posts on Twitter, one of which was taken down recently. Asked about support from the group during a White House press briefing in August, Trump said, “I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.”
In a blog post, YouTube said its effort two years ago to curb misinformation led to a 70% drop in views coming from “search and discovery” systems.
“When we looked at QAnon content, we saw the number of views that come from non-subscribed recommendations to prominent Q-related channels dropped by over 80% since January 2019,” the blog post asserted. “Additionally, we’ve removed tens of thousands of QAnon-videos and terminated hundreds of channels under our existing policies, particularly those that explicitly threaten violence or deny the existence of major violent events. All of this work has been pivotal in curbing the reach of harmful conspiracies, but there’s even more we can do to address certain conspiracy theories that are used to justify real-world violence, like QAnon.”