By CATHERINE SANZ, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — TikTok has disabled two prominent hashtags associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory, ABC News has learned.
The Chinese-owned video sharing app removed the ability to search for the hashtags mentioning the group’s name and most popular slogan on July 23. The move followed a widespread crackdown announced by Twitter earlier this week, which involved the removal of 7,000 Qanon accounts and introduced restrictions on posting links associated with Qanon theories.
The crackdown on QAnon material on TikTok appears to have occurred overnight. A hashtag of the group’s name had over 80 million views on July 22, but returned zero results on July 23, according to research by Samuel Oakford, who works for the social media agency Storyful.
QAnon is an unfounded conspiracy theory that stems from the idea of an anonymous person or group of people who use the name “Q” and claim to have information about an alleged plot against President Donald Trump and his supporters. Followers of the theory fantasize, without evidence, that Trump is working in secret against a global Satanic pedophile ring. They have imagined for years the imminent arrest of dozens of celebrities and major Democratic figures.
The conspiracy theory originated on the fringe message board 4chan, but has since spread to mainstream social media platforms. It has also been associated with a number of real-life acts of violence, including a man who used an armored truck to block traffic on the Hoover Dam in 2018 and a man accused of fatally shooting mob boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali last year.
Videos using the hashtags are still on the platform, but users are unable to search for related content by using the two hashtags. TikTok said the content violated its Community Guidelines and said it had taken steps to make it harder to find the QAnon material on its platform.
Trump has retweeted QAnon-promoting accounts and followers wearing clothes and hats with QAnon symbols and slogans have been photographed at his rallies. The most notable QAnon target was model Chrissy Teigen, who said she’d blocked one million Twitter accounts over harassment surrounding the theory.
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