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Twitter Cracked Down On QAnonBut Candidates Touting The Conspiracy Still Thrive There

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Twitter Cracked Down On QAnonBut Candidates Touting The Conspiracy Still Thrive There

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TOPLINE

While Twitter has worked to limit the influence of the QAnon conspiracy theory on its platform, banning more than 7,000 accounts and blocking the theory from appearing on sections of its site, political candidates with verified Twitter accounts who have openly touted QAnon on the platform remain largely untouched.

KEY FACTS

Followers of the far-right QAnon conspiracy believe a deep state of federal bureaucrats, Democratic politicians and Hollywood celebrities are plotting against President Trump and his supporters while also running an international sex-trafficking ring (an FBI memo released last year warned QAnons followers could be possible conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists).

Forbes confirmed that 14 candidates (first identified by the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters and Rantt Media) running in 2020 and verified by Twitter have actively supported the theory on Twitter.

Three of the 14Republican House candidates Alison Hayden, in Californias 15th District, and Nikka Piterman, in Californias 13th district; and Jo Rae Perkins, the Republian candidate for Senate in Oregonhave tweeted about QAnon since Twitters July 22 crackdown, while Mike Cargile, a Republican candidate for Californias 35th district, keeps multiple QAnon hashtags in his Twitter bio.

Even as Twitter fact-checks President Trump, many of the tweets about QAnon sent by verified political candidates remain up on its site, without any warning labels. 

Twitters sweeping actions against QAnon removed accounts from its platform and blocked the conspiracy from appearing in its trending section:

After Forbes reached out to Twitter about whether the crackdown would apply to politiciansespecially those verified by the platformTwitter issued Forbes a statement that read: We are constantly iterating on our policies and are evaluating the expansion of this policy to include candidates and elected officials.

Key Background

The 14 candidates Forbes confirmed citing QAnon include one candidate for the U.S. Senate, Jo Rae Perkins, the Republican candidate in Oregon; KW Miller, an independent House candidate in Florida; and 12 Republican House candidates: Joyce Bentley, Nev.; Mike Cargile, Calif.;  Erin Cruz, Calif.; Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ga; Alison Hayden, Calif; Buzz Patterson, Calif.; Nikka Piterman, Calif; Bill Prempeh, N.J.; Theresa Raborn, Ill.; Angela Stanton-King, Ga.; Rob Weber ,Philanise White, Ill. 

Tangent

Buoyed by their verification status, some of the QAnon-supporting candidates have racked up huge followings that dwarf their opponents. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican House candidate in Georgia who has called Q a patriot, has 45,000 followersmore than 36 times her GOP runoff challenger John Cowan, and presumptive Democratic challenger Kevin Van Ausdal combined.  And multiple candidates told Forbes they have had problems getting verified. Allen Ellison, a Democratic House candidate in Florida, told Forbes he was verified only a few weeks ago after trying repeatedly to obtain a blue check since March when he originally filled out the required questionnaire. Dr. Carolyn Salter, a Democratic House candidate in Texas, has yet to receive Twitter verification, even though her campaign filled out a form on Ballotpedia on June 15, a website which Twitter has partnered with to verify candidates. Gary Wegman, a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvanias 9th district, has also not received blue check verification, though Mallie Prytherch, Wegmans campaign director, told Forbes that the campaign completed the questionnaire and appeared on Ballotpedia around two months ago. Prytherch was also told by Twitter that it would have to wait for applications to be reviewed on a rolling basis. 

Further reading

Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates (The Hill)

Facebook Continues To Allow Political Ads Touting QAnon As It Weighs Crackdown (Forbes)

QAnons Fox News Cameo: The Conspiracy Theorys Latest Breakout Moment (Forbes)

Twitter Takedown Targets QAnon Accounts (New York Times)



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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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