YouTube bans QAnon and other conspiracy content 'used to justify real-world violence'

YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki.
(Image credit: GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

YouTube is cracking down on QAnon and other conspiracy theory content spreading wildly on its site.

Following the lead of Facebook, YouTube on Thursday announced its biggest step yet against "conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence." This includes "content that threatens or harasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories," YouTube explicitly said.

The far-right QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracies purport Democrats and Hollywood elites are part of a cannibalistic, pedophilic cabal and that President Trump is leading a resistance against them. The conspiracies have both flourished under Trump, who hasn't exactly shut them down.

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Before Thursday, YouTube said it had "removed tens of thousands of QAnon-videos and terminated hundreds of channels under our existing policies." It also modified its recommendation algorithm, leading "the number of views that come from non-subscribed recommendations to prominent Q-related channels [to drop] by over 80 percent since January 2019." But "there's even more we can do to address certain conspiracy theories," YouTube said, leading to Thursday's enhanced policy and a promise to "ramp up" conspiracy theory moderation "in the weeks to come."

Facebook and Twitter have also removed thousands of pieces of QAnon-related content, and Facebook took a bigger step earlier this month to ban QAnon accounts, groups, and pages altogether.

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.