Big Tech Is Purging Trumpworld’s Biggest Conspiracy Theorists

Including the biggest conspiracy theorist of them all.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

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Big tech companies are clamping down on far-right accounts, personalities, and apps. On Friday, YouTube banned former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account late on Friday. The company also banned former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell, two high-profile promoters of Qanon conspiracy theories who had aided Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election. Meanwhile, Apple is threatening to pull conservative social media site Parler from its app store unless Parler immediately institutes a moderation policy, according to a report from BuzzFeed News.

The purge comes days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol Building, clashing with law enforcement and leaving five people—including a Capitol police officer—dead. The mob, which shut down counting of the Electoral College vote for hours, was incited by months of false election fraud allegations promoted by Trump, Powell, and their allies. Trump spoke to the mob shortly before the violence and encouraged them to march to the Capitol.

The suspensions come after years of Trumpworld allies using social media to create alternate realities and outlandish conspiracy theories. Trump has used Twitter throughout his presidency to bypass the mainstream media and speak directly to his followers, once even bringing the United States to the brink of nuclear war with North Korea. It took an unprecedented siege of the Capitol for Twitter to finally act decisively, and only after Trump used the platform to repeat his election fraud lies and praise the insurrectionists, while half-heartedly telling them to go home.

YouTube, in particular, has been a hotbed of misinformation over the years. Experts have blamed it for the radicalization of disaffected viewers through algorithms that offer a continuous stream of incendiary content, as described by reporter Kevin Roose in his 2019 New York Times investigation. More recently, Bannon used the platform in November to call for the beheading of FBI director Christopher Wray and Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert who has often been at odds with Trump over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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