Oct. 15, 2020, 10:59 AM EDT By Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins
YouTube said Thursday that it would no longer allow content that targets individuals and groups with conspiracy theories, specifically QAnon and its antecedent, “pizzagate.”
“Today, we are taking another step in our efforts to curb hate and harassment by removing more conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence,” the company announced on its blog.
The new rules, an expansion of YouTube’s existing hate and harassment policies, will prohibit content that “threatens or harrasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon or Pizzagate,” the post read.
YouTube said it would be enforcing the updated policy immediately and plans to “ramp up in the weeks to come.”
YouTube’s move to rid the platform of QAnon content follows similar recent changes by other social media platforms. In July, Twitter removed QAnon accounts and restricted QAnon content. Last week, Facebook said it would remove groups, pages and Instagram accountsthat identified with QAnon.
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that baselessly claims high-profile Democrats and Hollywood celebrities are ritually sacrificing children as part of a cabal that President Donald Trump is fighting. Online, QAnon followers relentlessly attack public and private figures they imagine to be part of the satanic cabal. Some followers have taken their violent fantasies into the real world, allegedly committing violent crimes, including murder, a fact that moved the F.B.I. to label it a potential domestic terror threat in 2019.
Since 2018, YouTube has taken a series of enforcement actions and policy changes to reduce QAnon content using existing rules against incitement to violence or revealing private information. These moves led to the removal of tens of thousands of QAnon videos and the termination of hundreds of Q-related channels, YouTube said.
But, as YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN this week, “a lot” of QAnon videos have escaped moderation thus far because they are considered “borderline content,” having not violated any specific policy.
“I think with every policy, it has to be defined very clearly. Like what does that exactly mean, a QAnon group exactly?” Wojcicki said. “That’s a kind of thing that we would need to put in terms of the policies and make sure that we were super clear.”