Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the spread of conspiracy theories into popular social media networks like Youtube and Facebook has increased a lot. Harrison Hawkins, who has experienced the spread of QAnon in his own life, says that he was in love with a college student who was spiritual and intelligent. His girlfriend loved taking hikes and meditating, but later began to express anxiety. He soon started getting messages with troubling links related to child trafficking and the deep state.
This led to a big fight, and she was even researching adrenochrome chemicals that are believed to be extracted from the blood of children. After that, she cut off ties with him, and he is still left waiting for her comeback. Many media outlets have not given much importance to such things, and they have mentioned it as a regular conspiracy theory. However, the reality is that many Americans who have had troubled past are succumbing to such radicalization attempts on social media.
The growth of QAnon is unbelievable for many people, and it has even gotten a mention from Donald Trump on many occasions. The movement supports Donald Trump as it believes he is the hero fighting the battle against evil forces involved in child trafficking. However, QAnon does not always indulge in the regular political affairs of the Republicans and Democrats. Experts who analyze such forms of extremism feel that such theories have gained popularity in recent times as it provides simple and believable answers to various complex problems. As the entire world is reeling with the COVID 19 pandemic and other racial tensions, it becomes easy for such conspiracy theories to gain acceptance from lonely people.
Even though the far-right movement’s followers are active on extremist online platforms 8kun and 4chan, such conspiracy theories are getting into mainstream social media networks during the pandemic. Many people are now getting regular information about the theory, leading to radicalization slowly and steadily. According to experts who track the movement, the number of followers and groups in social media has increased rapidly ever since the coronavirus pandemic started surging in February. Millions of groups are now broadcasting information about the theory on Facebook and other social media networks.
QAnon appeals to many common citizens as it says it is working towards rooting out the secret cabal of Democratic leaders who are involved in child trafficking. Even though such allegations have no proof, the common man does not need them in this polarized age, and he or she will feel more comfortable accepting the opponent as evil. However, the problem with such a conspiracy theory comes with the fact that their desire to root out evil is inspiring their own evil acts. In 2019, the FBI declared this movement as a domestic terrorism threat. The FBI believes that such theories can spread and evolve in the future to divide groups, and it can also incite individual extremists to carry out criminal acts.
A woman from Illinois who was affected by the theories went on to the extent of committing a crime. She traveled to New York with a stash of weapons and knives intending to threaten Biden and Hilary Clinton. Experts are analyzing the trend of such radicalization teams going into public demonstrations regularly. They turn out to rallies supporting the save the children movement and often get into violent clashes. Experts also warn that the number of people participating in discussing such things online increases, and the number of people who are willing to act on the beliefs is also increasing rapidly.
QAnon watchdogs say that the bigger threat comes after the election results are announced, and if the results are not in life with the expectation of these radicalized teams, they may get to the streets to and take up violent acts. In this regard, the election can become the tipping point for these extremists to bring their thoughts into action. Many people who have observed such trends in the past believe that this is nothing new, and they have seen similar groups in the past. However, due to the rapid reach of social media, it is easier for people to share mindless ideas and get support from many people. Even if a few of the believers can get into taking action on certain issues, it can lead to a dangerous trend.
People who follow social media trends closely say that it is easy for social media networks to reinforce beliefs, and this setting is best suited for spreading conspiracy theories. Social media networks are struggling to control the spread of such theories on their network, and this has led to a lot of criticism from all corners. Recently, employees of Facebook challenged Mark Zuckerberg over the handling of such theories on their network. Even Zuckerberg admitted that it was an operational mistake to allow such groups to function on Facebook. Zuckerberg also mentioned that they would continue to fight such organizations and enforce their policies to contain such dangerous organizations.
Experts who have tracked the movement say that the group targets one person at a time, and what starts as a little information about the ideology later becomes a pool of information about fringe ideologies and extremist content. Their followers come from different backgrounds and age groups, and most of them spend long hours on social media networks. Given this situation, vulnerable people may get influenced too much, especially when they are dealing with a lot of personal issues. If they get too much influenced by the movement, they may even go to the extreme of taking action in real life to support the movement. In this way, the conspiracy theories are gaining limelight during the pandemic situation.
Many people have lost connection with their close family members and friends due to the influence of this movement. There are communities spread all over the Internet to discuss the painful stories of how this movement is affecting their families and relationships.