In its broad strokes, these findings do not deviate significantly from Twitter’s public portrayals of the effects of its move against QAnon, which came after more than 2 1/2 years of mounting evidence about the hateful, violent nature of the conspiracy theory and its penchant for sparking real-world crimes. The House of Representatives voted Friday to condemn QAnon.
Twitter has said it sought to eliminate accounts committing violations against its rules on harassment, hate speech and incitement to violence but also wanted to allow QAnon supporters to continue operating on the platform — albeit with new restrictions — so long as they followed platform policies. Overall, the company says its action caused discussion of the conspiracy theory to fall by more than half.
The researchers, however, found troubling evidence that Twitter has not yet done enough and that the conspiracy theory continues to “persist and expand” on the site, said Daniel J. Jones, a former F.B.I. analyst and Senate investigator who lead the review of the CIA’s torture program, now president of Advance Democracy.
Some of the surviving accounts have more than 100,000 followers each and and have worked to co-opt hashtags not previously affiliated with the movement, including #savethechildren and #inittogether, which started as a call for unity in facing the covid-19 pandemic before being adopted by QAnon supporters, the report found. Followers of the conspiracy theory have consistently downplayed the public health crisis and spread disinformation about its origins, potential remedies and the likely safety risks of a future vaccine against it.
“The QAnon ideology undermines trust in public institutions and sows societal divisions through hate speech and the spread of unfounded conspiracy theories,” said Jones. “Addressing this threat is going to require more robust action by the social media platforms, but more importantly, it’s going to require