- Twitter has suspended the accounts of Trump allies Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, as well as Ron Watkins, the operator of far-right social media site 8kun, NBC News first reported and Business Insider confirmed Friday.
- In addition to banning the accounts, which have played a major role in boosting the QAnon conspiracy theory, Twitter also said it would permanently remove any accounts “solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.”
- Twitter said the accounts violated its policy against “coordinated harmful activity” and that it was taking action “given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behaviour in the coming days.”
- Social media sites have faced backlash in the wake of Wednesday’s attempted insurrection by Trump loyalists for not doing enough to crack down on violence-prone far-right extremists who have used social media to spread their message and organise.
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Twitter said Friday it has suspended the accounts of Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and pro-Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, in the wake of Wednesday’s violence,NBC News first reported and Business Insider confirmed.
The three Trump allies had played significant roles in spreading the QAnon conspiracy theory, and had frequently encouraged violence.
“The accounts have been suspended in line with our policy on Coordinated Harmful Activity,” a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider.
“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,” the spokesperson added.
Flynn has repeatedly issued public calls, including on Twitter, for Trump to impose martial law to overturn the US presidential election results.
Powell is currently facing legal action for spreading misinformation about Dominion Voting Systems and the evidence-less legal challenges she has brought on behalf of Trump, including one in which she cited Watkins.
Following Wednesday’s attempted insurrection by violent Trump loyalists, which the president himself had encouraged shortly before they stormed the US Capitol building, Twitter said it had locked Trump’s account until he deleted tweets pushing debunked election fraud conspiracies.
But Trump deleted the tweets and, though he briefly denounced the violence, was back on Twitter on Thursday praising his supporters.
Twitter told Business Insider it has taken a number of additional steps to detect tweets that violate its policies and is more harshly enforcing its civic integrity policy. Facebook, meanwhile, said it had suspended Trump for the remainder of his term.
But Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites have faced sharp criticism for allowing misinformation and far-right extremists to continue to proliferate on their platforms.
Hundreds of Twitter employees called on Twitter to suspend Trump permanently, saying the company’s response has been insufficient,The Washington Post reported. Facebook and YouTube employees have also slammed their companies’ failure to detect, root out, and respond to far-right misinformation and accounts that have, at times, openly called for violence.