Update (6/2/20): A Roku spokesperson told The Verge, “The channel is no longer on our platform.” The Verge noted that Roku “would not elaborate on why it allowed the [channel] to launch last month.”
Streaming platform Roku allowed a channel dedicated to promoting the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory to launch on its platform last month. The channel’s creator says he also plans to offer it via Amazon Fire and Apple TV.
“Q Channel - QAnon Channel” describes itself as hosting “opinion based shows for getting the truth out, as we know it, about the Qanon movement.” The channel was announced in May by David Hayes, a QAnon supporter known online as “Praying Medic” who has a large following.
Roku has previously said that it bars from its platform content that is “unlawful, incited illegal activities, or violates third-party rights.” In May 2019, an FBI field office released a memo that listed QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat, and the conspiracy theory has been linked to multiple people who have committed threatening and violent acts.
The Roku Q Channel features videos from Hayes and another QAnon account known online as “In Pursuit of Truth” discussing the conspiracy theory and interpreting posts from “Q,” the conspiracy theory’s central figure. In a May 25 video on the Roku channel, Hayes announced that “a few other ‘Q’ decoders” would be joining him on the channel “in the coming days” and that “we are also planning on having our videos available on Amazon Fire and Apple TV at some point in the future.”
Roku has taken action against extremism on its platform before: In 2019, the company banned the channel for Infowars, an outlet known for spreading multiple conspiracy theories. Infowars and its host Alex Jones have also been banned from multiple other platforms.
QAnon content has also been barred from multiple tech platforms. Last month, Google banned multiple QAnon apps from its app store, and Apple apparently has done the same for its app store since 2018. Another platform, Eventbrite, last year banned any page promoting QAnon-related events on the site.
There have been numerous acts of violence associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory, including a man accused of murdering his brother with a sword, a man accused of murdering an alleged crime boss, a man who reportedly threatened to kill YouTube employees, an armed man who blocked the bridge over the Hoover Dam with an armored vehicle, a man who threatened to assassinate President Donald Trump, a woman who traveled to New York City to “take out” former Vice President Joe Biden, a man arrested for threatening to kill the governor and attorney general of Michigan, and multiple people who have attempted kidnappings.
The conspiracy theory has also become increasingly popular among border militias and anti-government groups. And “Q” and the conspiracy theory’s supporters have also been spreading misinformation about the novel coronavirus during the ongoing pandemic, including on the Roku channel, where Hayes on May 29 put up a video calling it a “plandemic,” a reference to a false conspiracy theory about the virus.