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Twitter to suspend accounts, block sites linked to QAnon conspiracy theory

FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2018, file photo, David Reinert holding a Q sign waits in line with others to enter a campaign rally with President Donald Trump in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. A far-right conspiracy theory forged in a dark corner of the internet is creeping into the mainstream political arena. It's called QAnon, and it centers on the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state.” (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File).
FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2018, file photo, David Reinert holding a Q sign waits in line with others to enter a campaign rally with President Donald Trump in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. A far-right conspiracy theory forged in a dark corner of the internet is creeping into the mainstream political arena. It's called QAnon, and it centers on the baseless belief that President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state.” (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File). (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Twitter said on Tuesday it would permanently suspend accounts that violate its policies while tweeting about QAnon, a fringe conspiracy group that claims “deep-state” traitors are plotting against President Donald Trump.

Twitter, which announced the change on its Twitter Safety page, said it would not serve content and accounts associated with QAnon in trends and recommendations, and would block URLs associated with the group from being shared on the platform.

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The suspension, which will be rolled out this week, is expected to impact about 150,000 accounts globally, Twitter said. It said that more than 7,000 accounts have been removed in the last several weeks for violating the company’s rules against spam, platform manipulation and ban evasion.

The suspensions will be applied to accounts “engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension — something we’ve seen more of in recent weeks,” Twitter said.

In online conspiracies, the term “deep-state” is used to refer to a combination of elites from the intelligence, political, business and entertainment fields, with QAnon’s theories claiming that the “deep-state” is at a secret war with Trump.

Read more: Facebook removes accounts linked to QAnon far-right conspiracy theory

QAnon has also claimed that Democratic Party members are behind international crime rings. The group’s content has spread widely on mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. Earlier this year, Facebook removed a U.S. network of fake accounts linked to QAnon.

Last year, the FBI issued a warning about “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” and designated QAnon as a potential domestic extremist threat.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru and Katie Paul in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Click to play video 'White House asked about QAnon conspiracy theorists appearing at Trump rallies' White House asked about QAnon conspiracy theorists appearing at Trump rallies
White House asked about QAnon conspiracy theorists appearing at Trump rallies