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Twitter cracks down on QAnon conspiracy theory, banning 7,000 accounts

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Twitter announced Tuesday that many accounts spreading the pervasive right-wing conspiracy theory known as QAnon would no longer be welcome on its platform.

Citing concerns about “offline harm,” the company explained that it would begin treating QAnon content on the platform differently, removing related topics from its trending pages and algorithmic recommendations and blocking any associated URLs. Twitter also said that it would permanently suspend any accounts tweeting about QAnon that have previously been suspended, coordinate harassment against individuals or amplify identical content across multiple accounts.

Twitter says the enforcement will go into effect this week and that the company would continue to provide transparency and additional context as it makes related platform policy choices going forward. According to a Twitter spokesperson, the company believes its action will affect 150,000 accounts and more than 7,000 QAnon-related accounts have already been removed for breaking the rules around platform manipulation, evading a ban and spam.

QAnon emerged in the Trump era and the conspiracy’s adherents generally fervently support the president, making frequent appearances at his rallies and other pro-Trump events. QAnon’s supporters believe that President Trump is waging a hidden battle against a secretive elite known as the Deep State. In their eyes, that secret battle produces many, many clues that they claim are encoded in messages sprinkled across anonymous online accounts and hinted at by the president himself.

QAnon is best known for its connection to Pizzagate, a baseless conspiracy that accused Hillary Clinton of running a sex trafficking ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizza place. The conspiracy inspired an armed believer to show up to the pizza shop, where he fired a rifle inside the restaurant, though no one was injured.

While the conspiracy theory is elaborate, odd and mostly incoherent, it’s been popping up in other mainstream places. Last week, Ed Mullins, the head of one of New York City’s most prominent police unions, spoke live on Fox News with a mug featuring the QAnon logo within clear view of the camera. In Oregon, a QAnon supporter won her primary to become the state’s Republican nominee for the Senate.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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