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Twitter Removes Thousands Of QAnon Accounts, Promises Sweeping Ban On The Conspiracy

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Twitter Removes Thousands Of QAnon Accounts, Promises Sweeping Ban On The Conspiracy

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Twitter on Tuesday said it is taking sweeping action against the conspiracy theory QAnon, removing more than 7,000 accounts associated with the group and banning links related to QAnon on the platform.

Jeff Chiu/AP


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Jeff Chiu/AP

Twitter on Tuesday said it is taking sweeping action against the conspiracy theory QAnon, removing more than 7,000 accounts associated with the group and banning links related to QAnon on the platform.

Jeff Chiu/AP

Twitter said on Tuesday it has removed more than 7,000 accounts associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory, a loose group of online provocateurs who support President Trump and spread absurd claims about forces supposedly attempting to topple the president.

Content associated with QAnon will be banned from the platform’s trends section and tweets sharing links involving QAnon theories will be blocked, Twitter officials said.

Twitter officials told NPR that the crackdown against QAnon is expected to affect more than 150,000 accounts, making it the most wide-reaching and aggressive response to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory that any social media platform has ever undertaken.

The new measures against QAnon, Twitter said, are in line with the company’s effort to police content that can lead to offline harm.

The conspiracy theory centers on a shadowy figure adherents refer to as “Q,” which started posting anonymously on message boards in October 2017 and claims to have the inside track about a worldwide criminal conspiracy.

The warped worldview has led to real-world actions, like when an Arizona man says he was motivated by QAnon to block a bridge near the Hoover Dam with a homemade armored vehicle. That man in February pleaded guilty to making a terrorist threat.

A man who has been charged with the shooting death of a New York mob boss has said he committed the violent act after following pro-Trump Internet postings about the president supposedly battling a cabal of liberal elites.

Trump has retweeted accounts connects with QAnon and at Trump rallies, some people wearing T-shirts and holding signs with QAnon images have appeared.

Other prominent proponents of QAnon include Roseanne Barr and former baseball star Curt Schilling.

QAnon has begun to leave the dark corners of the Internet and enter the mainstream.

Earlier this month, a Colorado woman who embraces QAnon won a Republican congressional primary, one of an estimated 23 current or former congressional candidates who have expressed openness to QAnon, according to the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matter for America.

Alice Marwick, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies disinformation, said it is a responsible move for Twitter to clamp down on QAnon.

“QAnon has been instigating networked harassment, not just of politicians and celebrities but of private citizens they believe are involved in a satanic pedophile cult,” Marwick told NPR.

She predicted that QAnon followers would flock to other platforms.

“They have large presences on Facebook groups and on YouTube. They also have their own sites and message boards, and they’re very good at adapting when social platforms change,” she said.

In May, Facebook took down a handful of QAnon-associated pages, but Twitter’s crackdown on Tuesday is far broader. Facebook has pointed to instances of QAnon inciting violence as the reason it removed posts related to the conspiracy theory, saying it would not take content down just because it promoted baseless QAnon theories.

Twitter is still assessing the fallout from a hack that struck the platform just days ago that compromised the accounts of 130 highly visible users, including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The hackers’ brazen intrusion made security experts wonder if Twitter is prepared for what may be an onslaught of attempted breaches and disinformation campaigns ahead of the November presidential election.



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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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