Was Twitter's decision to remove 7,000 QAnon accounts really about public safety?


Fact Box

  • QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that says that Donald Trump is waging war against elite pedophiles in the government, business, and the media.
  • Twitter originally claimed itself to be the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”  
  • Ever since coronavirus outbreaks began, “Trump has retweeted at least 90 posts from 49 pro-QAnon accounts.”
  • Twitter’s recent announcement includes two ideas. Account termination: anyone who tweets QAnon content and violates rules around harassment, multiple accounts, or previous suspensions will be permanently banned. The second, amplification: Twitter says it will not recommend QAnon accounts, suppress the topic in search results, and block sharing of QAnon-related websites. 
  • Twitter has been more aggressive in the fight against disinformation on its platform recently, placing warning labels on President Trump about mail-in ballots and another during a protest where he said 'looting' would lead to 'shooting.'

Jennifer (Yes)

It's clear that Twitter, as a private company, has every right to restrict speech, which could potentially lead to violence. With violent incidents related to domestic terrorism rising in frequency and virulence, there is an urgent need to ensure the stability of our society.

This is not a First Amendment issue. The First Amendment protects the right of citizens to express dissent without fear of retribution from the government. It does not guarantee any speech which expressly threatens public order. Further, a private entity like Twitter has no obligation to host any person who issues such threats or trades in conspiracy theories, which are similarly threatening to public safety.

In June of 2018, Matthew Wright used a homemade armored vehicle filled with '...weapons and 900 rounds of ammunition' to block a bridge near the Hoover Dam. He did this after issuing violent threats and was finally charged with terrorism, aggravated assault and fleeing law enforcement. And last year, Anthony Comello shot and killed reported Gambino crime family boss, Francesco Cali.

Both men claimed to have been heavily influenced by QAnon postings on social media. Both men believed they were doing the public a service by revealing the 'deep state' that QAnon true believers regularly reference, with little in the way of concrete evidence. 

The warped, fevered acts of men like Wright and Comello are the threat Twitter has moved to contain. QAnon cannot be permitted to poison the public discourse any more than it already has in these volatile times. Its unfounded conspiracy theories have the potential to provoke violence in the real world.

Mandy (No)

Twitter deleted the QAnon accounts not because of public safety, but because they want to control the narrative so that users only see what Twitter wants them to see. And, ironically, by deleting these accounts, they are confirming the viewpoints of QAnons. QAnons use free speech to seek truth about the elite and hold them accountable, since authorities do not. Celebrities, politicians, and elites (like Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein) have been operating sexual assault rings without punishment for years until the QAnon movement began

QAnons are interested in seeking truth, not violence, unlike Antifa, BLM, White Supremacy, and Black Hebrew Israelites who call for and commit violence. Antifa used Twitter to plan violent activity during the May and June riots this year in many cities.

Twitter should not be in charge of what is considered 'conspiracy' or 'public safety' because that makes them subjectively in charge of curbing free speech. Twitter should let people research the claims for themselves instead of hiding certain viewpoints. There were years when the CIA informant on Watergate (known as 'Deep Throat') was considered 'conspiracy.' If he had been silenced, then Nixon would never have resigned. 

It's a dangerous line to cross to encourage the idea that speech is unsafe. 'The Committee of Public Safety' during the French Revolution directly led to the 'Reign of Terror,' which had 50,000 dissenting voices beheaded for no crime except speaking differently than the narrative of the Revolution.

If QAnons are banned, then Hilary Clinton and James Comey should be banned for continuing to push the 'Russia collusion' conspiracy, as well as Antifa, BLM, and all accounts that claim Trump 'isn't our president.'

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