WASHINGTON (SBG) — Connecting online is one of the fastest ways to connect with friends, family and strangers. Many recent protests were also organized online and it’s one way President Trump communicates directly with his 84 million followers.
But it’s also become ground zero for scams, coordinated harassment and the rapid spread of misinformation...one of the groups alleged to promote conspiracy theories, now banned by Twitter, with word Facebook may be following suit.
"Q anon is a conspiracy theory group their political game is to infiltrate our government and cause disruption based on this misinformation," said Eric Feinberg, with The Coalition for a Safer Web.
Twitter announced this week it would permanently ban 7,000 and restrict 150,000 more.
The reason - to quote “protect the public conversation in the face of evolving threats.”
Feinberg said those threats may include pushing anti-lockdown protests in California ...and calling the Coronavirus a hoax, giving an example of a popular hashtag for the group.
“ID 2020 is a conspiracy theory that Bill Gates and Fauci are developing a vaccine inserting a chip to track you. These are the kind of conspiracy theories they peddle.”
The move to block Q Anon comes in the midst of a robust discussion both online and on capitol hill about how much protection social media platforms should get ...
Some Republicans have claimed sites like Twitter and Facebook are biased, and have already asked for outside investigations into the matter.
"If your companies are truly committed to transparency and you’re telling us that they are then I think the public deserves to have some answers," said Sen. Josh Hawley, R, Missouri, during a hearing in April of last year.
"I was shadow banned by Twitter," said Rep. Devin Nunes, R, California, who added he's already filed a lawsuit against Twitter. "They allow Republicans to be targeted. Supposedly they’re regulating, but they’re not because when it comes to accounts against democrats, those accounts, for the most part, get shut down."
So far there’s little concrete evidence it or any other sites are actually biased and a reminder as well from tech experts about free speech and the internet:
“The First Amendment prevents the government from censoring you. What people are concerned about these platforms, they are private companies," said Neil Chilson, a Senior Research Fellow with Stand Together, in a recent interview. As private companies, they can make, and play by, their own set of rules.