YouTube on Thursday banned videos that claim people are part of such false conspiracies as or Pizzagate, the company said in a blog post. With tweaks to its policies around hate and harassment, YouTube said it would remove videos targeting an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence in the past. That means Google‘s massive video service would take down videos that suggest somebody is complicit in the unfounded conspiracy QAnon, which has grown in prominence in the last three years.
QAnon is a collection of untrue beliefs that, for example, a secret club of Satanist Democrats, child-trafficking millionaires and state officials are trying to topple the administration of President Donald Trump. Pizzagate is a false conspiracy theory linking Hillary Clinton to a pedophile ring. Both have been debunked.
But over the three years since its theories first emerged on the fringes of the internet, the prominence of QAnon has grown, especially in the run-up to the US presidential election this year. The FBI said last year that the movement represented a domestic terrorist threat.
“As always, context matters, so news coverage on these issues or content discussing them without targeting individuals or protected groups may stay up. We will begin enforcing this updated policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come,” YouTube, which is the internet’s biggest video source, with more than, said in its post Thursday.
YouTube‘s announcement Thursday comes the same day that the US House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee was set to hold an open hearing on misinformation and conspiracy theories online.