TikTok to remove accounts promoting QAnon-related content
TikTok has decided to toughen its stance against the QAnon conspiracy theory, intensifying its ban to all content or accounts that promote videos advancing baseless ideas from the far-right online movement.
TikTok’s attack against QAnon comes just as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other technology firms have announced bans on content from the Trump-supporting conspiracy theory. QAnon started in October 2017 and has gathered a huge following online especially due to the social media companies.
TikTok has been cracking down on QAnon-related content and it had off late quietly targeted and banned several hashtags associated with the QAnon conspiracy, and now says it will delete user accounts promoting QAnon content.
Tiktok says these policies are not new and actually went on the books earlier this year. As per TikTok’s Community Guidelines, misinformation causing harm to individuals, community, or the public is prohibited on the site, including medical misinformation, which QAnon has engaged in by posting false notions about the Coronavirus.
Despite the policies, earlier this month, a report from Media Matters, a nonprofit organization that acts as a media watchdog for scrutinizing right-leaning media outlets, identified more than a dozen hashtags TikTok users used to spread QAnon conspiracy theories about President Trump’s positive coronavirus test, false beliefs about Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and videos questioning if the pandemic was real.
Media Matters report said that TikTok was still hosting at least 14 QAnon-affiliated hashtags with over 488 million views. These came about because the platform had yet to address how QAnon followers were evading its community restrictions using variations and misspellings.
After the report from Media Matters, TikTok removed 11 of the 14 hashtags. Media Matter report noted this in an update and praised the changes as something TikTok was doing that was good and significant even if long overdue.
Today, a number of QAnon-related hashtags like #QAnon, #TheStormIsComing, and others return no results in TikTok’s search engine. These hashtags don’t show under the Top search results section, and nor do they show under Videos or Hashtags.
YouTube last week also said it will remove conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence.
TikTok has been a target of the Trump administration in recent months. The US Government Administration has filed an appeal against an order that blocked it from banning downloads of the app. A separate order from the US Administration is still in place, which requires ByteDance to find a US owner for TikTok by November 12th or stop operating the service in the country.