Who are fueling conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic in the United States?

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Groups like Qanon, supported by Donald Trump and social networks, sow delusional theories: shadow governments, satanic rites, the vaccine as an instrument to manipulate.

Don’t you like the world? Do you want clear ideas about the pandemic? Are you suspicious of the Covid-19 vaccine? Increasingly widespread conspiracy theories are on the rise unprecedented this 2020. The perfect cocktail culminates the pandemic and the race for the US presidency, with a Donald Trump who encourages bizarre theories and willingly accepts the role of “savior” of humanity, which assigns him QAnon (contraction of Q and Anonymous), the most thriving group on the planet of conspiracies and denialism.

“When the US president retweets messages from individuals from QAnon and other extremist groups, them is legitimizing. Their actions and not questioning their beliefs lead ordinary people to think that these ideas are a reality, ”says Kevin Grisham, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, which monitors global movements that foster hatred and polarization.

The appearance of Covid-19 has been the best gift for an underworld -Very active in social networks- which in recent years had already spread outlandish theories in the United States but that the pandemic allows exporting with great public success. The FBI dedicated an extensive report on these groups on May 30, 2019 – for the first time in the history of the police agency – in which it was recorded that more and more individuals or groups have gone from theories to action since 2016.

That year, for example, an individual entered the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington DC with an AR-15 rifle and a revolver. to kill some employee, whoever: The conspiracy theory pointed to the restaurant as the cover of a pedophile ring with degenerate Democratic politicians… and Hillary Clinton herself. The name of the plot invited tears or laughter: the Pizzagate.

Conspiracies are not exclusively an American affair. And now they have a great tool to travel everywhere like the Internet. What are the most dangerous conspiracy theories in America today? Those of QAnon and the anti-vaccine theories. They are managing to build arguments against a potential vaccine and other efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19. As these beliefs grow, they weaken efforts to control and eradicate Covid-19, ”Professor Grisham warns.

Europe is no stranger to conspiracies. “In recent history, Europe has been the birthplace of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, a false document that continues to be the basis of numerous anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. It has been a British, Andrew Wakefield who has spread false theories about the existence of a relationship between the MMR vaccine (measles and rubella) and autism.

Or David Icke, one of the world’s greatest popularizers of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus ”, observes Imran Ahmed, director of the British Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), at the service of large platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter to detect and advise the expulsion of those groups or people who falsify data and promote hatred on the networks. According to a recent CCDH report that includes “The Lancet” this October the accounts of “antivaxaxers” (anti-vaccines) already increased in 2019 between 7 and 8 million worldwide. And this year, one in six British respondents say they will refuse to receive a possible vaccine against Covid-19.

The pandemic is being a fertilizer of this underground world because it confirms diffuse ideas such as the Apocalypse, the evil forces, the impact of 5G technology on health or the existence of select clubs in which four cats manage the destinies of humanity. Three are the figures most pointed out by conspiracy theories: Bill Gates, George Soros y Mark Zuckerberg. In confusing days, the apostles of the conspiracy offer clear and concise answers. “People looking for answers to a life that has become unpredictable right now turn to the networks and end up on conspiratorial sites. Many ignore them, but not all. This is particularly noticeable with regard to Covid-19 ”, highlights Kevin Grisham.

Paradoxically, the efforts of the institutions and organizations that carry out the campaigns against the sites that spread hoaxes and hoaxes end up reinforcing the conspiracy theories. When Facebook banned any reference to QAnon on its platforms on October 6, it only confirmed the prejudices of his 600,000 followers: The evil Zuckerberg, owner of Facebook, intends to silence us and, incidentally, defeat Donald Trump. A similar measure was announced this Thursday by YouTube.

However, these platforms have been obtaining not inconsiderable income from groups opposed to vaccines. The aforementioned CCDH report states that “31 million people follow these groups on Facebook, with 17 million subscribed to similar accounts on YouTube. The CCDH estimates that the anti-vaccine movement can bring in 1 billion dollars in revenue for the “social media” sector. Not bad.

Who is behind QAnon? Nobody. And more. The platform emerged in October 2016 in the forums “4chan” and “8chan” with a series of anonymous messages about the Pizzagate and later an alleged large-scale kidnapping of minors for orgies, transplants and satanic rites, in which a Washingtonian elite of congressmen, senators, journalists, lobbyists, intelligence agents would be implicated … The founder of “8chan” points to the man who now controls this forum: a certain Jim Watkins, who would try from the Philippines to gain political influence in the US (and export his Christianity to the archipelago). The truth is that his Frankenstein already walks alone, a common denominator to all denialist groups.

Who is so inhumane as not to sympathize with abused children? Little by little make all possible mistrust theirs, which fuels the myth that QAnon is the creature of one or more spy agents who know the ins and outs of power better than anyone. The aura of the vigilante in the shade.

Did John Kennedy Jr. die in a plane crash in 1999? QAnon solves the suspicions: a sabotage planned by Hillary Clinton to be a senator for the state of New York. Sexual and financial predator Jeffrey Epstein was imprisoned in July 2019 and found hanged in his cell on August 10? Liquidated by yours and other confirmation that it exists “A satanic pedophile plot on a global scale”. The attacks of September 11, 2000? Work of the “deep state”, the shadow state that tries to end the individual freedom of the citizen. Lady Diana’s accident? A commission from Elizabeth II to the British intelligence services.

Part of QAnon’s success is in his ability to sow doubts with rhetorical and insidious questions and let the followers feed the debates until the number of the messages is so great that it can convince the most skeptical. “They show a hyperactivity that sows confusion and suggests that there are many more and they form a large group. This creates the effect of bolstering the conspiracy theory and believing that it deserves to be taken seriously, ”says Imran Ahmed of the Center for Countering the Digital Hate. And as the “traditional” media do not usually publish these fables or hypotheses not because they are absurd or unfounded but because they are “sold”, the followers see their misgivings about the establishment confirmed.

QAnon is gaining ground in the United States. Its progression in 2020 is meteoric in terms of followers and perception of public opinion. They spread distrust of the system – 20% of Americans considered it likely in June that the coronavirus was launched by a hidden power, according to a Pew Research Center poll – and hatred of elites, a phobia with paranoid overtones, very much in in tune with President Trump.

A dominant theory in the QAnon realm is the existence of an evil cabal – a handful of powerful men – that leads the United States and that one day, closer and closer, they will get what they deserve and be arrested. What they call “The Storm” (the storm). Then “The great awakening” will arrive, awakening and the beginning of a new, more just world. And what is President Donald Trump doing here? It is about the Good that fights against the evil forces of the “Deep state”.

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