Twitter canceled comments by Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell and other prominent supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory advocated by President Donald Trump on Friday.
The permanent ban is the most high-profile ban the company has instituted as part of its efforts to combat misinformation and call for violence.
As part of efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election, Flynn and Powell have met with Trump at the White House in recent weeks. They are also well-known figures in the QAnon community, and Flynn even expressed his “oath” to conspiracy theories last year.
A Twitter spokesperson told NBC News: “According to our policy on coordinating harmful activities, these accounts have been suspended. It is clear that we will take strong enforcement actions against behaviors that may cause offline harm, and given that in the coming days Within, we will permanently disable accounts dedicated to sharing QAnon content around the possibility of violence in this type of behavior again.”
Twitter also deleted the account of Ron Watkins, the administrator of the site 8kun, which was previously named 8chan and hosted posts from the false number “Prophet” Q at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
After white supremacists used 8chan’s website to issue a manifesto before the mass killings, including a terrorist attack in a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas that killed 17 people in 2019, 8chan changed its name last year.
Watkins and Powell, who live in Japan, have been making false claims about the role of Dominion Voting Systems and its company in the US elections in recent weeks and targeting private citizens on false allegations of election fraud. Powell was sued by Dominion Voting Systems on Friday, seeking damages of US$1.3 billion.
The ban is to lock Trump’s account on Twitter and warn that if he continues to violate company policy, he will face the danger of a permanent ban. Trump released a video in response to the mob sweeping the Capitol, in which he continued to spread false claims about the election. His account is no longer locked.
Twitter, which has refused to call on its platform for years, has recently taken a tougher stance on violence-related conspiracy theories, most notably the QAnon movement. In July of this year, Twitter deleted 7,000 accounts and restricted many others from allegedly using QAnon.
The ban increased complaints from conservatives, who claimed that Twitter’s policies and law enforcement had unfairly targeted them. Some users stated that they have left the platform and chose a similar alternative, such as Parler. During the election, Twitter actively restricted misinformation and Parler surged.
This is a developing story. Please check for updates.