The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘You don’t have a “right” to coordinate attacks’: Chrissy Teigen backs Twitter’s QAnon crackdown

A Trump supporter holds a QAnon flag at Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota, where President Trump gave a speech. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As QAnon conspiracy theorists bombarded Chrissy Teigen with false claims and threats last week, the model and author blocked more than 1 million accounts and threatened to abandon the platform and her 13 million followers.

On Tuesday, Twitter took broad action itself against the right-wing conspiracy theory. The social media company recently deleted more than 7,000 QAnon accounts, the company confirmed to The Washington Post, and is removing QAnon URLs from tweets and working to prevent the conspiracy theory from showing up in recommendations and trending topics. The changes could ultimately affect more than 150,000 accounts.

The company told The Post the move to crack down on QAnon wasn’t directly motivated by Teigen’s high-profile conflict last week, but rather an emerging trend of QAnon groups coordinating to abuse people.

Teigen backed the move, telling a critic who called Twitter’s announcement “censorship” that harassment isn’t free speech.

“You don’t have a ‘right’ to coordinate attacks and make death threats,” Teigen wrote on Twitter. “It is not an ‘opinion’ to call people pedophiles who rape and eat children.”

QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory, is fueled by right-wing outrage online and in the real world. (Video: Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

How QAnon conspiracy theory became an ‘acceptable’ option in marketplace of ideas

Twitter is the latest Internet giant forced to reckon with the bizarre but growing conspiracy group, which has been embraced by some GOP candidates, shown up in T-shirts and banners at President Trump’s rallies, and fueled online harassment and violent threats. Two years ago, Reddit banned QAnon message boards for “inciting violence,” and Facebook said in May that it had also removed QAnon pages.

Adherents believe a baseless theory born on the infamous message board 4chan that a high-ranking government official, known as “Q,” communicates through cryptic Web posts that describe a secret mission by Trump to expose a global web of powerful child predators.

The FBI warned in a bulletin last year that QAnon will probably drive “both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.” In one high-profile murder trial, the alleged killer’s lawyers say he was a QAnon believer driven to shoot a man he believed to be part of the supposed government plot.

Yet Trump has repeatedly retweeted accounts that promote QAnon material, and nationwide, nearly 600,000 people have voted for candidates who back the theory, The Post’s Philip Bump reported in July.

Nearly 600,000 people have voted for candidates who support QAnon

In recent years, followers have targeted Teigen over false claims linking her to Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy sex offender. Last week, Teigen demanded Twitter crack down on the abuse, saying it was impossible to block so many accounts making threats toward her and her family.

“I have a family and job and there are too many to target,' she tweeted, adding, “They have no idea how hard this is to cope with. They won’t stop until I die. I’m convinced of it. And even then they’ll think of another conspiracy.”

The thousands of QAnon accounts recently deleted by Twitter violated company rules against operating multiple accounts, coordinating harassment against individuals and evading previous bans, the company said.

“We will continue to review this activity across our service and update our rules and enforcement approach again if necessary,” Twitter said in a statement.