Conspiracy theory QAnon is everywhere, including in podcasts

QAnon demonstrators protest child trafficking on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, on Aug 22, 2020. — AFP

A wave of bans. While social media companies are updating their policies to prohibit content promoting QAnon, adherents of this far-right conspiracy theory are turning to new platforms to promote their controversial ideology.

Among them are several podcast-hosting websites, according to a report by nonprofit Media Matters for America. The liberal media watchdog group found that Qanon-related podcasts and videos continue to spread on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Vimeo, with many supporters of the conspiracy theory uploading content recently banned from YouTube and Facebook to these platforms.

According to Business Insider, Spotify has since taken down the QAnon podcasts “X22 Report”, “Indigenous Mike”, “Praying Medic”, and “Pardon My American” from its platform. A decision in line with the Swedish company’s policy on Hate Content and Hateful Conduct, which stipulates that it prohibits “content whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation”.

While Spotify was quick to take action to ban the QAnon podcasts identified by Media Matters for America, tech companies are still struggling to stop the spread of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory on their platforms.

The Chinese-owned app TikTok has recently revamped its disinformation policy to remove content and accounts affiliated to QAnon, which have grown in popularity in recent years. Fourteen QAnon-related hashtags racked up over 488 million views combined on TikTok as of June this year, according to Media Matters for America.

Although TikTok quickly removed 11 of these identified hashtags and variations from its app, the company has recently confirmed that it was taking “significant steps” to make QAnon content harder to find.

“We continually update our safeguards with misspellings and new phrases as we work to keep TikTok a safe and authentic place for our community,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to Media Matters for America.

Smaller platforms such as Pinterest, Etsy and Triller similarly announced restrictions on QAnon-related content, at a time when Democrats are increasingly criticising social media platforms for doing too little to curb the spread of right-wing misinformation.

Although the QAnon movement began in 2017 on 4chan, the conspiracy theory movement has migrated to the offline world in recent years, with some of its adherents charged with violent crimes.

Earlier this October, the US House of Representatives approved a bipartisan resolution to condemn this conspiracy theory, which falsely alleges that Satan-worshipping paedophiles have infiltrated the highest reaches of American government and Hollywood.

“QAnon poses a clear and immediate danger to our country: eroding trust in democratic institutions, rejecting the very notion of objective reality, fueling division and even directly leading to violence,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented in a statement. – AFP Relaxnews

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