YouTube channels and influencers associated with the “QAnon” conspiracy theory remain active despite efforts announced last year to reduce the spread of such content on the video platform, a new report has found.
Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media watchdog, said on Wednesday that it identified at least 14 ban-evasion channels that were still spreading claims about the baseless political conspiracy centered around former President Donald Trump.
The investigation listed numerous examples of channels known to push the conspiracy that remained active when verified by Newsweek on Thursday.
Some of the accounts included We The Media (9.9K subs), The Kate Awakening (26.8K subs), Mel Q (5.38K subs), and Ben Chasteen Edge of Wonder (26.8K subs).
MMFA reported one profile, Scott McKay, was uploading content to three sock puppet channels with variations of its original name. Likewise, an account named TruReporting appeared to now be using a profile titled T.R.U. Reporting 2, MMFA said.
Much like how YouTube failed to properly purge all content from conspiracy theorist and talk show host Alex Jones, MMFA reported some YouTube channels appeared to have been created with the purpose of reuploading the banned QAnon content, although it was not clear if it was the work of the shows’ creators or just fans of the videos.
After the main Edge of Wonder channel was removed from YouTube, Chasteen said in a video on November 7, 2020 the strategy was to attempt to run another account “under the radar” without much official branding. His account was active as of Thursday.
YouTube has been contacted for comment.
The platform announced a crackdown of QAnon uploads via an October 2020 blog post saying it was “removing more conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence,” part of an effort to combat the spread of hate and harassment.
Just three months later, a number of Trump supporters—some wearing Q-branded clothes—stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. in a siege that killed five people.
Broadly, QAnon believers suggest that Trump is key to combating a “deep state” cabal. The identity of “Q” has never been confirmed but its advocates claim, without evidence, they are a U.S. government official who has access to secret intelligence.
QAnon content, and some influencers peddling the conspiracy online, are also outlawed on Facebook and Twitter, with the platforms attempting to limit Q-linked posts.
As of January 19, 2021, Facebook said that it had removed about 3,000 pages, 9,800 groups, 420 events, 16,200 Facebook profiles and 25,000 Instagram accounts for violating its policy against accounts spreading QAnon claims on its platforms.
On 12 January, 2021, the week after the deadly Capitol riot, Twitter said in a blog that a sweep for QAnon content resulted in more than 70,000 accounts being removed.