Morning Briefing: Conspiracy Theories Continue to Thrive Online
From QAnon to COVID-19 to Ukraine, conspiracy theories continue to disseminate and metastasize online, despite efforts to curtail the spread of conspiracy theories on social media platforms.
Morning Briefing: After mainstream social media companies cracked down on the promotion of QAnon-related content, “many QAnon believers moved to lesser-known social platforms marketed to users with more right-wing sensibilities.”
Several conspiracy theories related to the COVID-19 pandemic have resurfaced online, including the false claim that the “Biden administration has negotiated a deal to give the World Health Organization (WHO) control over pandemic laws in the United States.”
Several far right social media accounts “posted a series of baseless claims that suggested the entire Ukraine war might be a hoax perpetrated by Western media and governments.”
Rep. Matthew Rosendale claims when he posed for a photo outside the U.S. Capitol he was unaware that the men in the photo are “known for promoting white supremacist and other hateful ideology.”
The Chicago Police Department is reopening an investigation into Kyle Mingari “who has so far avoided any discipline for sporting an extremist symbol during a racial justice protest in 2020.”
Ali Winston writes that “the circumstances leading to Brandon Russell’s initial arrest and prison term make clear that the plot he is accused of crafting to attack power substations ringing the Baltimore area is the product of an unbroken line of planning and action the Atomwaffen Division founder has pursued for over half a decade. In conversations with Tampa Police detectives following the murders of Oneschuk and Himmelman, Arthurs claimed he’d shot both young men to prevent a terrorist attack and warned authorities that Russell was plotting “to kill civilians and target locations like power lines, nuclear reactors, and synagogues.” In a recorded interview with Tampa Police Detective Kenneth Lightlinger, Arthurs warned that Russell, Oneschuk and Himmelman knew how to manufacture explosives and had plans to hit government offices, federal buildings and power lines near a highway. Arthurs also told Lightlinger that Russell had joined the Florida National Guard to learn how to use firearms and devise explosives. [The Baltimore Banner]
Laura Jedeed reports that “January 6 is a subject still hot to the touch. As with the last two Conservative Political Action Conferences, the legal plights of those who participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol found sympathetic but limited purchase on the main stage and slightly more attention on the periphery of the conference. But there’s been a shift in tone this year: something beyond both conspiratorial claims of federal incitement and concerns over the treatment of the prisoners within America’s carceral nightmare. It’s the word “hero” between the names that’s new. It’s the worst rap lyrics you’ve ever heard. It’s the active canonization of the fallen; worship of the ones still alive and oppressed. Slowly, inexorably, the J6 Cult of Martyrs is finding a place within the mainstream conservative pantheon. All of this has happened before: Once that mythos settles in, it will surely happen again.” [The New Republic]
David Gilbert writes that “the narrative that the war was fake first emerged in the early days of the invasion, and one of the key pieces of ‘evidence’ used by those spreading the disinformation was a video they claimed showed “fake bodies” in body bags. The video, which shows the body bags moving in the background, was in fact taken at a climate change protest in Austria about a month before Russia invaded Ukraine. Over the weekend, it was once again shared as ‘evidence’ that the mainstream media was lying about the war. The most popular post came from an anonymous right-wing Twitter account called Amuse, which shared the video with the comment: “Stop Moving - You’re Supposed to be Dead! Psyop?” The tweet currently has been viewed over 3.9 million times and been liked over 45,000 times.“ [Vice]
This Week in Extremism
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This Week in Extremism: A conversation with Will Sommer, author of Trust the Plan: The Rise of QAnon and the Conspiracy That Unhinged America. Join the discussion in Twitter Spaces on Friday, March 10th at 12:00pm EST (11:00am CST / 9:00am PST).
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