Suspect in assault at Pelosi home had posted about QAnon
The man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home and severely beating her husband with a hammer appears to have made racist and often rambling posts online, including some that questioned the results of the 2020 election, defended Donald Trump and echoed QAnon conspiracy theories.
Iowa man charged in Capitol riot may be returned to jail
A prosecutor says an Iowa man seen in a videotaped confrontation with a police officer during the Capitol insurrection should be returned to jail until trial because he violated terms of his release by watching anti-government internet videos about the Jan. 6 attack.
Report: Extremist groups thrive on Facebook despite bans
More than two-thirds of the groups and pages had names that aligned with several domestic extremist movements, the report found. Facebook acknowledged that its policy enforcement “isn't perfect,” but said the report distorts its work against violent extremism and misinformation. In October, it banned QAnon groups across its platform. It has also banned extremist and militia movements and boogaloo groups with varying degrees of success. ___This story has been corrected to show that the groups were still active on the platform as of Feb. 24, not March 18.
Twitter says it suspended Rep. Taylor Greene by mistake
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2021 file photo, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives to speak at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Twitter briefly suspended the account of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Friday, March 19, but later said the move was a mistake. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – Twitter briefly suspended the account of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Friday, but later said the move was a mistake. San Francisco-based Twitter later said one of the platform's automated systems suspended Greene by mistake. “I was just told @Twitter suspended me for 12 hrs in ‘error,’ on the same day Dems introduced a resolution to expel me from Congress,” she posted.
The Latest: Board reportedly wants Capitol fencing removed
National Guard stand guard at a perimeter fence at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)WASHINGTON – The Latest on a possible threat against the Capitol (all times local):5:50 p.m. Pittman says the board suggested some temporary fencing would be removed starting Friday, and the fencing around the outer perimeter of the Capitol complex would be removed starting March 12. Some fencing is likely to remain as law enforcement officials continue to track an increased number of threats against lawmakers and the Capitol. This comes two months after Trump supporters smashed through windows and doors to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory.
Dem-led House, drawing a line, kicks Greene off committees
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON – A fiercely divided House tossed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene off both her committees Thursday, an unprecedented punishment that Democrats said she’d earned by spreading hateful and violent conspiracy theories. Though Trump left the White House two week ago, his devoted followers are numerous among the party’s voters, and he and Greene are allies. Even social media stars like Greene could find it harder to define themselves without the spotlights that committees provide. Thune said House Republicans needed to issue a “really strong” rebuke of Greene’s conspiratorial formulations. The House resolution punishing Greene was barely over a page.
St. Clair Shores woman shares her story after leaving QAnon conspiracy group
DETROIT – Many of the followers of the political conspiracy QAnon are bent on violence against politicians and many took place in the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol Building. QAnon has made national headlines with baseless claims helping to create chaos in the wake of the 2020 U.S. General Election. For Lenka Perron, like many others, spiraled into the online conspiracy QAnon in the wake of the 2016 U.S. General Election. “We’re angry at the Democratic Party. Many followers believed Trump would initiate mass arrests and executions of Democratic Party leaders.
Moving on from QAnon? Experts say these tips could help
LISTEN, DON'T PREACH: Believers in conspiracy theories aren't likely to be swayed by people who mock their views. Instead of lecturing, listen and ask questions about why they got into the conspiracy theory, or where they get their information. VOLUNTEER: Mental health experts and former QAnon believers say finding local volunteer opportunities can help current and former adherents redirect their energy and concern in a positive way. REACH OUT: Conspiracy theories create online communities, and renouncing them can leave people feeling alone, humiliated or confused. Former believers looking to move on from QAnon say talking about their feelings helps.
Checked by reality, some QAnon supporters seek a way out
She broke up with the boyfriend who recruited her into the movement, took six months off social media, and turned to therapy and yoga. AdThe QAnon conspiracy theory emerged on fringe internet message boards in 2017. Michael Frink is a Mississippi computer engineer who helps administer a QAnon recovery channel on the social media platform Telegram. Frink said he never believed in the QAnon theory but sympathizes with those who did. Ad“This isn't about critical thinking, of having a hypothesis and using facts to support it," Cohen said of QAnon believers.
Inauguration sows doubt among QAnon conspiracy theorists
President Joe Biden's inauguration has sown a mixture of anger, confusion and disappointment among believers in the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory. QAnon followers grappled with anger, confusion and disappointment Wednesday as President Joe Biden was sworn into office. QAnon emerged in 2017 through anonymous, fringe online message boards before migrating to Twitter, Facebook and other mainstream platforms that were slow to purge the conspiracy theory from their sites. Among the most notable defectors appeared to be Ron Watkins, a prominent promoter of election fraud conspiracy theories who helps run an online messaging board where QAnon conspiracy theories run wild. “I believe the game is still being played this is not over!” one QAnon user wrote to his 26,000 Telegram followers moments after Biden took office.
Social media crackdown continues after siege of US Capitol
The social media company Twitter said Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021, it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week's U.S. Capitol insurrection. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)LONDON – Social media platforms are continuing to crack down on fringe groups and conspiracy theories following last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. Twitter’s sweeping purge of QAnon accounts, which began Friday, is part of a crackdown that also includes its decision to ban President Donald Trump from the service over worries about further incitement to violence. Twitter has been trying to rein in QAnon for months, removing more than 7,000 accounts in July. Twitter's suspensions followed a flurry of actions by tech giants that silenced rival social media platform Parler, a magnet for the far right.
Twitter blocks 70,000 QAnon accounts after US Capitol riot
The social media company Twitter said Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021, it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week's U.S. Capitol insurrection. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)LONDON – Twitter says it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week's U.S. Capitol riot. In many cases, a single individual operated numerous accounts, driving up the total number of affected accounts, the company said in a blog post. The QAnon conspiracy theory is centered on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against “deep state” enemies and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. Twitter has previously tried to crack down on QAnon, removing more than 7,000 accounts in July.
Experts: Capitol riot product of years of hateful rhetoric
Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. – The storming of the U.S. Capitol is a jarring but natural product of years of violence and hateful rhetoric stoked by disinformation and conspiracy theories, experts on far-right extremism said as they pored over images of Wednesday's riot. Online forums popular with Trump supporters lit up with gleeful posts about the chaotic scenes broadcast from the Capitol. But across both platforms, Trump supporters used the hashtag #StormTheCapitol to document the chaos with photos or video and praise the mob. The storming of the Capitol is the “logical conclusion to extremism and hate going unchecked” during Trump’s presidency, Segal said.
Georgia Republican who supports QAnon wins US House seat
Republican candidate for Georgia's 14th congressional seat Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks from the bed of a pickup truck during a campaign rally Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Roswell, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)ATLANTA – Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who expressed racist views and support for QAnon conspiracy theories in a series of online videos, has won a U.S. House seat representing northwest Georgia. Greene thanked her staff and asked supporters to pray for Trump to win reelection at a watch party Tuesday night, video of which was livestreamed on Facebook. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up - a real WINNER!”Greene initially started campaigning for a different House seat, challenging Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, made up of suburbs north of Atlanta. She switched to the more conservative 14th District after Republican Rep. Tom Graves announced that he wasn’t seeking reelection. The seat has been open since Graves stepped down in October.
Conspiracy theory QAnon bubbles into tossup Utah House race
Burgess Owens, Republican candidate in Utah's 4th Congressional District, poses for a photograph during a campaign stop Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in Spring City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)SALT LAKE CITY – The conspiracy theory QAnon bubbled into the forefront in a competitive race for a suburban Utah swing congressional district this week, another sign of how the baseless theory has diffused into mainstream politics. For many voters in the Republican-leaning district, Owens' flirtation with QAnon doesn’t appear to be a deal breaker. Thomas dismisses QAnon but said “if Owens believes in QAnon, that doesn’t disqualify him, in my opinion." The Owens campaign has said he doesn't believe in the Qanon's conspiracy theory.
QAnon's 'Save the Children' morphs into popular slogan
A group holds signs rallying in support of the Save the Children movement, calling for an end to child trafficking Sept. 26, 2020, in Morris, Ill. Some also use the platform to launch private groups where they swap tips, rumors and stories about child trafficking. While Trump has not made “Save the Children” part of his campaign, he has twice publicly praised QAnon's mission. But the connections among “Save the Children,” QAnon, and Trump still permeate social media. She said she avoids “Save the Children” Facebook groups promoting misinformation, QAnon and white supremacy symbols.
AP Explains: What's behind Trump's town hall answer on QAnon
So QAnon followers were celebrating Trump's response to a question during a televised town hall on Thursday night. But he then praised their work against pedophilia and refused to say the conspiracy theory was false. QAnon is an apocalyptic and convoluted conspiracy theory spread largely through the internet and promoted by some right-wing extremists. In August, Facebook introduced new rules designed to stop encouraging users to join QAnon groups. It also banned QAnon hashtags and kicked off thousands of QAnon groups that encouraged violence.
QAnon supporters behind canceled fundraiser give Trump $1M
The couple, Caryn and Michael Borland, have shared QAnon memes and retweeted posts from QAnon accounts, The Associated Press reported in September, which led to the cancellation of a Montana fundraiser. The Trump campaign also did not immediately respond. While many Republicans have dismissed QAnon, Trump has been unwilling to reject support from adherents, a sign of how deeply it has gained a foothold in the GOP. During a townhall forum broadcast on NBC Thursday night, Trump repeatedly declined to say the QAnon theory was false and professed to know little about it. It previously featured several QAnon “Q” logos, including a flaming “Q” with a Christian cross in the middle.
YouTube follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon crackdown
OAKLAND, Calif. – YouTube is following the lead of Twitter and Facebook, saying that it is taking more steps to limit QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories that can lead to real-world violence. YouTube is the third of the major social platforms to announce policies intended rein in QAnon, a conspiracy theory they all helped spread. Twitter announced in July a crackdown on QAnon, though it did not ban its supporters from its platform. It did ban thousands of accounts associated with QAnon content and blocked URLs associated with it from being shared. Experts said the move shows that YouTube is taking threats around violent conspiracy theories seriously and recognizes the importance of limiting the spread of such conspiracies.
Facebook braces for contested election, voter intimidation
The ban will likely last for a week, though Facebook says it could run longer if necessary. And it plans to label posts that cast doubt on election results with links to official information. The changes — less than three weeks before Election Day and with voting happening already — show how quickly social media companies must respond to existing and anticipated threats to the election process. Facebook said it has been preparing for this election since 2016, when its platform was used by Russian agents trying to intervene with the U.S. political process. While Facebook and other social media companies have strengthened their policies and enforcement since, the threats to the election process have also gotten more sophisticated in that time.
Facebook says it will ban groups for ‘representing’ QAnon
Mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won’t necessarily lead to a ban, Facebook said. Facebook announced its new approach weeks after deciding to limit the spread of content from Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts that support violent acts, such as those associated with QAnon. “Starting today, we will remove Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon, even if they contain no violent content," Facebook wrote in a press release Tuesday. The QAnon phenomenon has sprawled across a patchwork of secret Facebook groups, Twitter accounts and YouTube videos in recent years. Reddit, which began banning QAnon groups in 2018, was well ahead, and to date it has largely avoided having a notable QAnon presence on its platform.
Facebook says it will ban groups for ‘representing’ QAnon
OAKLAND, Calif. – Facebook said it will ban groups that openly support QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials. The company said Tuesday that it will remove Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts for “representing QAnon” — even if they don’t promote violence. Mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won't necessarily lead to a ban, Facebook said. It said it would only remove QAnon groups if they promote violence. Reddit, which began banning QAnon groups in 2018, was well ahead, and to date it has largely avoided having a notable QAnon presence on its platform.
Woman accused in QAnon kidnapping plot pleads not guilty
DENVER – A Colorado woman accused of plotting with supporters of QAnon to have her son kidnapped from foster care pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping on Friday. Abcug, who has been released from jail, appeared by video too but did not speak during the short hearing. Abcug's son was removed by social workers from their home in Parker in suburban Denver in January 2019 after Abcug was suspected of lying about his health problems. However, she said the GPS monitor was an important part of maintaining the children's placements because of “worry and concern." _____This story has been corrected to change the crime Abcug is charged with to conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping
Walmart, Amazon among donors to QAnon-promoting lawmaker
That's according to an Associated Press review of campaign finance records and online posts by Republican state Rep. Susan Lynn. The corporate support for a QAnon-promoting politician is another example of how the conspiracy theory has penetrated mainstream politics, spreading beyond its origins on internet message boards popular with right-wing extremists. Dozens of QAnon-promoting candidates have run for federal or state offices during this election cycle. Unlike state Rep. Susan Lynn, who chairs the Tennessee House finance committee, few are incumbents who can attract corporate PAC money. In July, AT&T Tennessee PAC, Cigna Corporation PAC and Jack Daniel’s PAC contributed a total of $4,000 to Lynn’s campaign.
Pence drops plan to go to fundraiser hosted by QAnon backers
– Vice President Mike Pence has canceled plans to attend a Trump campaign fundraiser in Montana following revelations that the event's hosts had expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. The change comes after the AP reported Wednesday that hosts Cayrn and Michael Borland in Bozeman, Montana, had shared QAnon memes and retweeted posts from QAnon accounts. The QAnon narrative has grown to include other long-standing conspiracy theories, gaining traction among some extreme Trump supporters. Pence has said it's a conspiracy theory and last month told CBS, “I don’t know anything about QAnon, and I dismiss it out of hand."" In April, she responded to a pro-Trump Tweet from a QAnon account by replying “Always” with a praying hands emoji.
Challenger to QAnon supporter bows out of race in Georgia
Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal bowed out of the race against Marjorie Taylor Greene for “personal and family reasons,” his campaign manager Vinny Olsziewski told The Associated Press. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said Friday that the window has passed for Democrats to replace Van Ausdal, likely sealing a win for the already-favored Greene. Georgia law says a candidate who withdraws less than 60 days before the election cannot be replaced on the ballot. Van Ausdal faced long odds in Georgia’s deep-red 14th Congressional District. She has also expressed support for law enforcement and railed against Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place nationwide in recent months in support of racial justice and equality.
AP Exclusive: Pence to attend event hosted by QAnon backers
The hosts of the fundraiser, Caryn and Michael Borland, have shared QAnon memes and retweeted posts from QAnon accounts, their social media activity shows. The baseless conspiracy theory posits that Trump is fighting entrenched enemies in the government and also involves satanism and child sex trafficking. While many Republicans have dismissed QAnon, the fundraiser is another sign of how the conspiracy theory is gaining a foothold in the party. Representatives for the Trump campaign didn't immediately comment on the fundraiser. They posed for photos from the White House South Lawn, including one that shows Michael Alfaro, a Trump fundraiser from Illinois, in the foreground.
QAnon conspiracy emerges in some state legislative races
PHOENIX Candidates engaging with the QAnon conspiracy theory are running for seats in state legislatures this year, breathing more oxygen into a once-obscure conspiracy movement that has grown in prominence since adherents won Republican congressional primaries this year. They make up a tiny share of the thousands of state legislative candidates on the ballot in November and many are longshots, but several, including in Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are running in competitive districts. While he does not describe himself as a QAnon adherent, he has liked and forwarded videos made by QAnon backers. While races for congressional seats often generate more publicity, state legislative positions serve as springboards to higher office, and their holders wield significant power to affect everyday life determining state policies on education, policing, health care, criminal justice and other issues. Among those was Suzanne Sharer, a Republican legislative candidate in the Phoenix area who has posted QAnon videos and messages more than a dozen times in recent months.
Facebook bans some, but not all, QAnon groups, accounts
Facebook said Wednesday it is banning groups and accounts associated with QAnon and a variety of U.S.-based militia and anarchist groups that support violence. QAnon groups have flourished on Facebook in recent years. Facebook said it will only remove groups and accounts outright if they they discuss potential violence, including in veiled language. For instance, when people join a QAnon group, Facebook will not recommend similar groups to join. Facebook said it is not banning QAnon outright because the group does not meet rigorous" criteria for the platform to designate it a "dangerous organization."
Trump praises QAnon conspiracists, appreciates support
WASHINGTON President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the supporters of QAnon, a convoluted, pro-Trump conspiracy theory, and suggested he appreciates their support of his candidacy. Speaking during a press conference at the White House, Trump courted the support of those who put stock in the conspiracy theory, saying, I heard that these are people that love our country." QAnon has ricocheted around the darker corners of the internet since late 2017, but has been creeping into mainstream politics more and more. Trump's comments came a week after he endorsed Marjorie Taylor Greene, who won her GOP House primary runoff in Georgia last week. Asked about the matter, Trump told reporters he had heard rumors that Harris, a Black woman and U.S.-born citizen whose parents were immigrants, does not meet the requirement to serve in the White House.
Judge: Mom accused in QAnon kidnapping plot can stand trial
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. A Colorado woman accused of working with supporters of QAnon to have her son kidnapped from foster care can be put on trial, a judge ruled Thursday. Abcug was arrested in Montana on Dec. 30, 2019, after leaving Parker, the Denver suburb where she lived with her daughter. She was charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping after being returned to Colorado. She shook her head when Parker police Detective Beverly Wilson testified that her daughter had said her mother barely left the house except to go to meetings with QAnon supporters. Abcugs daughter also told authorities that at least two men had come to their house to provide security for them, including one who her mother told her was a sniper with a military background.