Analysis: Why Trump’s latest conspiracy theory can’t stick

YouTube said on Wednesday that it will prohibit content that claims an individual or group is involved in conspiracy theories like QAnon and Pizzagate that have been used to justify violence in the real world.

Rather than flat-out prohibit content that discusses a conspiracy theory like QAnon, YouTube will prohibit content that threatens or harasses someone by suggesting they are part of harmful conspiracies, YouTube said in a blog post.

QAnon believers have embraced a number of different and often contradictory theories, but the basic false beliefs underlying the far-right conspiracy theory are claims about a cabal of politicians and A-list celebrities engaging in child sex abuse, and a “deep state” effort to undermine President Trump.

Vague discussion of QAnon ideas is not covered by the new policy, such as falsely saying there is a cabal of Washington insiders and celebrities involved in sex trafficking. Still, YouTube said it would look for a variety of signals in such videos. For example, if someone is named or an image of a person is shown anywhere in the video, YouTube would take it down under its new policy.

YouTube said it believes Wednesday’s update will have a significant impact on the remaining QAnon content on the platform. In the past YouTube has struggled to enforce its policies effectively and even when it has banned content, it continues to appear on the platform.

The update is YouTube’s latest effort to curb the most egregious content coming from QAnon followers, while stopping short of a ban on QAnon.

In fact, it remains resistant to any such blanket ban, even as Facebook has banned QAnon pages, groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, while TikTok has banned QAnon accounts and removed QAnon content.

In a recent interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wouldn’t say whether the platform would ban QAnon. “We’re looking very closely at QAnon,” Wojcicki said. “We already implemented a large number of different policies that have helped to maintain that in a responsible way.”

Wojcicki pointed to changes made to YouTube’s recommendation system, which she said have reduced viewership of QAnon content by more than 80%.

YouTube also said it’s taken down tens of thousands of QAnon videos and removed hundreds of QAnon-related channels.

Watch the interview here: