Following Twitter and Facebook, controversial social video platform TikTok is cracking down on QAnon conspiracy theories, it announced this week. Though QAnon videos are still allowed on the platform, TikTok is making it harder for users to find them by blocking related hashtags, a move that aims to reduce the spread of misinformation among the public.
The QAnon conspiracy theory is as popular as it is strange; it surfaced on 4chan in October 2017 with an unknown source using the name ‘Q’ claiming to provide secret information about Donald Trump and those who oppose his administration. The conspiracy has grown considerably over the past few years, adding in allegations about various politicians and actors, among many other things.
Despite the obvious ridiculousness of the claims, the QAnon conspiracy has garnered a number of diehard believers, many of whom are pro-Trump and who subscribe to far-right political ideology. Claims made as part of the conspiracy have grown extensively enough that a number of major platforms are taking steps to prevent them entirely.
Twitter recently issued a sweeping ban of thousands of accounts related to QAnon conspiracy. Facebook likewise removed many pages related to QAnon from its own platform back in early May. Now TikTok has told BBC that it is blocking hashtags related to QAnon — these hashtags were essentially portals to videos about the conspiracy.
Though the videos remain on the platform, users will find it much harder to casually find these videos, limiting the spread of the conspiracy on that platform. Whether this will ultimately have any sort of major impact on the conspiracy is yet to be seen, but is unlikely. The conspiracy has spread broadly beyond 4chan and is now intractably linked to the current political climate.