YouTube took action against the conspiracy group QAnon, banning videos that call for violence, following the lead of social-media companies that have cracked down on such content.
YouTube said Thursday in an unsigned blog post that it would immediately “prohibit content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence.” The company previously had broad and general limits on potentially harmful speech.
The platform, a unit of Google, explicitly called out movements such as QAnon—a conspiracy that alleges a secretive group of child traffickers controls the world and is undermining President Trump—and Pizzagate, a debunked theory that involved Hillary Clinton and an alleged child-abuse ring housed in a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor.
The development puts Google and parent Alphabet Inc. GOOG -0.71% further into an area the conglomerate has sought to avoid: the outright removal of content. Last year, for instance, YouTube yanked advertising revenue from, but didn’t ban, videos that used antigay and racist language to describe a progressive video producer.
Other Silicon Valley giants have led the way against QAnon. Facebook Inc. in August said it would remove QAnon pages and groups that include discussions of potential violence. The social network tightened the policy this month, banning any pages dedicated to QAnon across its platform, including Instagram.
YouTube, by far the world’s largest video platform, said it had already removed tens of thousands of videos and cut off hundreds of QAnon channels. Some related content will remain, namely news coverage on the issue or discussions that don’t explicitly target individuals or what YouTube calls “protected groups.”
YouTube, in the blog, said it may take further action “due to the evolving nature and shifting tactics of groups promoting these conspiracy theories.”
Write to Rob Copeland at [email protected]