President Donald Trump’s new Space Force appears to be attempting to distance itself from the QAnon conspiracy theory that has become a national phenomenon over the past few years, as the official Space Force Twitter account is hiding replies that hint at the conspiracy.
But it also appears to be distancing itself from a great number of tweets, a move that’s impossible to disrespect.
Twitter rolled out its “hide replies” feature in late 2019, saying that its first tests of the feature found that “people mostly hide replies that they think are irrelevant, abusive or unintelligible. Those who used the tool thought it was a helpful way to control what they saw, similar to when keywords are muted.”
It’s a way to prevent other people from interacting with responses to your account.
But as part of the feature, users can still see the replies hidden by the account.
And the @SpaceForceDoD Twitter account seems to love to use it more than any other military branch.
Space Force, it seems for certain, is hoping to keep the conversations stemming from its tweets away from the QAnon conspiracy.
Anyone familiar with QAnon Twitter knows that a single tweet by a follower can set off a cascade of events that lasts for days.
And QAnon replies can get weird, as believers in the conspiracy think the coronavirus pandemic is a fake, and believe President Donald Trump is secretly rooting out pedophiles within the Democratic party.
Eight minutes after the Space Force account posted a tweet with its new commercial this week, an account by a user claiming to be a “Former Navy with [top secret] clearance,” replied “WWG1WGA”, which is a motto for the conspiracy and stands for “Where We Go One, We Go All.”
But the Space Force account hid the reply within minutes.
That was the second time in two days that it hid a reply from that account. On the day before, it hid an identical tweet.
Space Force appears to be the only department that is hiding replies. The Daily Dot did not find examples at the Twitter accounts controlled by the Department of Defense or the Air Force.
And there were plenty of QAnon replies to those accounts.
There has been a frequent string of instances where the Space Force has hidden QAnon replies—there’s this diagram it hid on May 2. On April 20, an account with a flaming “Q” as its avatar posted a link to this YouTube video that ponders whether UFOs have invaded the moon. That post was hidden.
On February 19, Space Force hid another “WWG1WGA” tweet.
But, whatever is going on at the Space Force social media command center is spotty. Not everybody on the team seems to have gotten the memo to hide the QAnon tweets.
In one instance, on March 10, when a user posted the “WWG1WGA” motto, and asked how to join the Space Force, the official account replied “As of now, visit your local U.S. Air Force recruiter and let them know you’re interested in space-related career fields.”
But it’s not just QAnon content either—it don’t like any criticism.
When an account replied to a Space Force tweet insinuating that its tweet was an April Fool’s Day joke, his reply was hidden.
When Space Force tweeted a link to a press conference with its general, a user tweeted “this is still a thing #EpicFail” and the Space Force hid that reply.
On March 10, when it tweeted a photo of a space ship drawn into a Super Mario game, a user had their tweet hidden after writing: “This is so Trump. Mario. The moon landing. Donald Trump. I’m telling skies the limit. And I mean it in the most cartoon sense of the universe. Hop scotch on the planets and destiny written forever as Donald Trump pioneer of the stars.”
And on March 8, it posted a tweet quoting General Jay Raymond, saying that the Space Force will be impressive when “fully established.” An account had its tweet muted after writing, “Morons. The word you’re looking for is morons. When fully established, you will look like morons. Created solely to appease a moronic president.”
That came among a slew of other hides.
Perhaps the most iconic tweet hidden by the Space Force was from a user calling himself Modern Day Megalodon, who wrote: “Don’t worry about this bitch ass flu. Keep your eyes on the skies for aliens thinking about punking us while we are weak,” though it’s possible that the Space Force muted that reply because it includes profanity, rather than an astute observation about the threat of punking extraterrestrials.
But it’s not all so funny, at least one hidden reply seems to have raised a legitimate concern when a user wrote: “Yay we have a space force but we don’t have global pandemic offices anymore! Space force is nothing but a huge waste of $$$.”
And when another user responded “oh my God, they hid your reply,” his reply was hidden too.
It also hid a tweet that linked to this YouTube video about Star Trek.
Asked about the hidden replies, a spokesperson for the Space Force pointed the Daily Dot to a disclaimer on their website, though that doesn’t say anything about specific social media policies.