It’s a tough time for believers of QAnon, the baseless far right conspiracy theory that claims President Trump is secretly battling a global satanic child trafficking ring run by his political enemies.
Earlier this summer, Twitter announced it was cracking down on accounts promoting QAnon. Then, just this month, Facebook rolled out a new policy that prohibited the vast majority of QAnon pages and groups.
Now it’s YouTube’s turn to take action against the conspiracy theory.
In a blog post published on Thursday, YouTube announced that it would be expanding on its hate and harassment policies, which will now “prohibit content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence.”
YouTube specifically references QAnon and the Pizzagate conspiracy theories as examples of content that will fall under its new rules: “One example would be content that threatens or harasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon or Pizzagate.”
QAnon, specifically, has already been connected to real-world violence, including attempted kidnapping, attempted murder, and other criminal acts. An official FBI document obtained by Yahoo News even warned that fringe conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, are a domestic terror threat.
It’s important to note that YouTube’s update doesn’t ban QAnon and other conspiracy theories outright. It only affects content that targets individuals. For example, QAnon believers frequently accuse Hollywood celebrities and Democratic politicians of being pedophiles. This sort of content, specifically targeting an individual or groups, would be banned from YouTube.
However, general discussion of QAnon, such as news coverage or content that doesn’t target individuals or protected groups, is still allowed on YouTube’s platform.
According to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in an earlier interview with CNN, prior to this new policy, the company has already reduced viewership on QAnon-related content by 80 percent since January 2019. This occurred due to the company’s previous policy decision to remove conspiratorial content from its recommendation algorithm.
While all QAnon content isn’t banned, the move could still prove detrimental to the movement. Popular QAnon channels, like “Patriot’s Soapbox,” have been crucial in spreading QAnon beliefs. Some Republican candidates have even appeared on that particular program in an effort to reach QAnon supporters to get out the vote. As of the rollout of YouTube’s new policy this morning, Patriot’s Soapbox has been banned. QAnon-related shows that don’t get removed today will likely need to be much more careful about what they promote now to their viewers.
In addition to the policy update, YouTube said that it has already “removed tens of thousands of QAnon videos and terminated hundreds of channels” that ran afoul of its existing rules.
However, YouTube also admitted that today’s policy update is due to the fact that the company still has more work to do.