Accounts spreading QAnon, anti-vax, and election fraud misinformation are still being hosted by Twitch, despite the platform’s alleged crackdown
Update (4/8/22): All of the QAnon-promoting accounts mentioned in this article have now been banned from Twitch and replaced with a page saying, “This channel is currently unavailable due to a violation of Twitch's Community Guidelines or Terms of Service.” The other accounts are still active.
Twitch has allowed multiple accounts that have promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, anti-vax misinformation, and election fraud misinformation to remain on the platform, despite a recent announcement that it is committing to cracking down on such material. At least one of these accounts is verified by the platform.
As reported by The New York Times, Twitch in early March announced that it would prohibit “harmful misinformation superspreaders who persistently share misinformation on or off of Twitch.” The new policy, according to the Times, includes “content related to dangerous medical treatments, lies about Covid-19 vaccines, falsehoods ‘promoted by conspiracy networks tied to violence,’ content that ‘undermines the integrity of a civic or political process’ — including lies about election fraud — and content that could harm people during emergencies like wildfires and shootings.” Twitch also announced that the new policy prohibits QAnon “as a conspiracy theory that promoted violence.” Following the announcement, multiple QAnon accounts were banned from the platform.
Despite this commitment, a Media Matters review found multiple accounts that seem to violate Twitch’s misinformation policy but are still on the platform, where they are spreading the QAnon conspiracy theory and/or misinformation about vaccines and voter fraud. The accounts have tens of thousands of followers combined.
The review found multiple QAnon-promoting accounts were still up:
TRUReporting, a QAnon show that has been banned from YouTube and Twitter.
We The Media, a channel run by a group of QAnon influencers who were banned from Twitter following the Capitol insurrection.
Dee Stevens, a QAnon supporter who co-hosts an online show with Jim Watkins, a fellow QAnon supporter who owns the site 8kun, where “Q,” QAnon’s central figure, has been based.
Rise of the New Media, a channel run by QAnon-supporting columnist Brian Cates, who contributes to QAnon show X22 Report and who has been a member of We The Media.
pgunnels, a channel that associates itself with Brian Cates and QAnon influencer Patel Patriot.
Edge of Wonder, a show that has pushed QAnon and that has been banned from YouTube.
The review also found multiple anti-vax accounts still up, as well as one from a prominent voter fraud misinformation promoter:
WendyBellRadio regularly streams far-right conspiracy theories. In one stream about vaccines, WendyBellRadio went on a lengthy conspiratorial rant:
‘Follow the science,’ they say. Well, the science sucks. It’s corrupt. They’re choosing winners and losers. And the only way that I can extrapolate this, being a moderately intelligent woman, is they don’t want you to live. They do not want you to be healthy. They want you to be addicted to whatever the next medicine that they’re pushing is.
She pushed COVID-19 conspiracy theories, notably writing them to display to viewers on a whiteboard the show called a “BS board” and wrongly claiming that a Centers for Disease Control coding error was “code for ‘we’ve just been lying to you so you’d get your kid vaccinated.’”
The Twitch-verified EvilFX is run by a far-right conspiracy theorist with over 15,800 followers who routinely streams anti-vax misinformation. A verification badge is significant because it indicates that the user is a member of Twitch’s “partner” program, with access to additional monetization and channel growing features. Twitch has described partners as users “who can act as role models to the community” and “the best broadcasters that the Twitch community has to offer.” The platform claims to evaluate partnership applications “on a case by case basis.”
EvilFX claimed that mainstream media is being controlled by Pfizer, stating in one stream, “Of course they’re not going to say anything negative against the vaccines. Are you kidding me?” The account promoted ivermectin (a medication that right-wing media pushed as a COVID-19 cure, even though it has proved ineffective) on his livestream, eventually saying, “I don’t know what to fucking say other than don’t fucking listen to fucking mainstream news or your science communicators that are paid for and funded by fucking Soros and the globalists.”
EvilFX has also expressed his displeasure with the Twitch misinformation policy on Twitter, writing, “Told you this was coming,” and even hosted a stream about the change. “So I’ve gotta be careful about my streams because, you know, misinformation. The channel may disappear at any second,” he lamented.
Conservative Daily Podcast is a show from prominent voter fraud conspiracy theorist Joe Oltmann (the leader of a QAnon militia group has also claimed that Oltmann has helped the group raise funds). Oltmann has actively used his Twitch channel to push voter fraud claims.
Although Twitch’s announcement is a step in the right direction, these glaring holes in the platform’s content moderation serve as a reminder that there is still much work to be done. Twitch must enforce its own policies or risk enabling the proliferation of extremist ideologies and dangerous misinformation on the platform. Amazon, which owns Twitch, has also struggled with QAnon and anti-vax content on its main platform in the past, including selling a bestselling QAnon book.