Quebec-based conspiracy theorist Alexis Cossette-Trudel booted from Twitter
The social media company has deactivated thousands of accounts that peddle misinformation
Twitter has suspended the account belonging to conspiracist and influencer Alexis Cossette-Trudel at the same time it has banned thousands in a crackdown on the QAnon movement.
Hundreds of QAnon-related accounts promoted a demonstration on Wednesday in front of the U.S. Capitol, which turned into a violent, failed insurrection during which five people died.
The event prompted Twitter to adopt stringent new measures regarding incitement, disinformation and the peddling of conspiracy theories.
Cossette-Trudel, 48, has made a name for himself as one of the French-speaking world's busiest producers of videos and other content relating to QAnon, a fictional conspiracy created in 2017 by a video producer and two moderators at the now-defunct 4chan message board.
Adherents variously believe in satanist and pedophile cabals, among many other things, and that the 'deep state' rose to steal last November's election from President Donald Trump. There is no evidence to support those beliefs.
Trudel-Cossette has amplified various outlandish QAnon claims via his Twitter account, insisting for months that "a storm" would soon descend on Washington, D.C.
He has also become one of the province's highest-profile COVID-19 denialists, and has spoken at multiple anti-mask rallies.
In early October, Facebook announced its own purge of QAnon-related pages, groups and accounts. Cossette-Trudel's various pages, and his 'Radio-Quebec' video stream, were among them.
Ten days later, YouTube did likewise, pulling the plug on Radio-Quebec and its associated revenue streams.
Late Friday evening, a new account bearing Cossette-Trudel's name was created on Twitter, but The Canadian Press has not been able to establish the identity of the person who created it.
Two months ago, Cossette-Trudel opened an account on Parler, a social platform home to many extremists who have been banned from Twitter and Facebook. He indicated on the site early Saturday morning that he would restrict his social media presence to it as well as VK, a similar platform based in Russia.
Even before this week's deadly mayhem at the Capitol, the QAnon conspiracy had been linked with dozens of crimes in the U.S. and elsewhere, including kidnappings and murders.
One of the most infamous cases involves Anthony Comello, a 25-year-old who stands accused of killing a member of the New York mafia underworld. According to his lawyer, Comello was convinced he would protect Trump from the 'deep state' by carrying out the murder.
In Canada, a heavily armed Manitoba man was arrested last year and charged with crashing his truck through a gate at Rideau Hall, near the residence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and that of the governor-general. He had posted and shared QAnon content on social media in the weeks leading up to the incident.
Police in Quebec have arrested numerous people in the last year for uttering death threats against politicians in the province. In many cases they had consumed or spread QAnon content via social media.
with files from Sean Gordon