It may be the most crazed-to-the-point-of-hilarity
conspiracy theory to be floated across social media, in the age of Trumpism and
It is, in fact, the very essence of “fake news,” but to the
Trumpy set, it is ironclad law.
I’m speaking of the “QAnon” conspiracy theorists that have
been permeating social media for the past year.
The crux of the QAnon theory is that President Trump and
special counsel Robert Mueller are secretly working together to bring down a
massive network of pedophiles in Democrat politics and Hollywood.
There are several hashtags to look for to know if you’re
trailing or being trailed by a QAnon nut:
There are more, but those are a few dead giveaways.
Well, NBC News is reporting that Twitter has zeroed in on a new batch of Russian troll accounts, this time, with a mission to push conspiracy theories, like QAnon, to gullible Americans.
Twitter announced Thursday the removal of 418 accounts tied to the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, the disinformation group whose employees were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller last February for attempted election interference.
The accounts’ tweets featured the hashtag #MAGA, usually in support of President Donald Trump, almost 38,000 times — the most of any hashtag. #ReleaseTheMemo, a social media campaign pushed by allies of the president last year that aimed to discredit some members of the FBI, was tweeted 37,583 times.
There were around 400 accounts located, which tweeted out
those hashtags over 900,000 times.
That’s a lot of propaganda.
#QAnon was the second most tweeted hashtag.
The “Q” followers began showing up at Trump rallies last
year, and when I say trying to convince these people that there will be no mass
arrests is pointless, that is an understatement!
I remember during the funeral services for Senator John
McCain the “Q” enthusiasts were sure that this was Trump’s grand plan for getting
so many globalist criminals in one place, and that the net of justice was about
to be dropped on them all.
It didn’t happen.
In fact, there have been several deadlines for mass arrests,
according to the mysterious “Q” to come and go, with nothing changed.
It doesn’t deter the true believers, at all.
Nina Jankowicz, a global fellow at the Kennan Institute focusing on Russia and technology, told NBC News that Qanon’s often outlandish narratives about a secret global cabal fueled by the United States fits well with Russian propaganda’s larger narrative.
“One of the Kremlin’s favorite tactics is to inspire confusion and doubt to sow distrust in government. Qanon certainly does that,” Jankowicz said.
“Amplifying the conspiracy theory also makes it look like it has more supporters, distracting from more substantive issues in the online discourse.”
All of this activity does more than just sow discord among
Americans. It taps into the psychotic workings of the mind of those who would
be fooled by such hoaxes.
In the last year, believers in the conspiracy have also been in armed standoffs with the police in Arizona, and one blocked the Hoover Dam demanding the “Release of the OIG Report,” a Qanon-based conspiracy theory loosely derived from the success of #ReleaseTheMemo.
All of the 30 most-used hashtags pushed by the suspected Russian troll accounts focused on either support for Trump, conspiracy theories that targeted his political opponents or a separate — but sometimes overlapping — trolling campaign that meant to demean Muslims.
The hashtags #IslamIsTheProblem, #StopImportingIslam and #BanShariaLaw were each tweeted more than 15,000 times by the 481 Russian troll accounts.
It wasn’t all about Trump, however. The Russian trolls want
to cause division and chaos. They want to see the nation rocked by civil
unrest, so they work both sides of the political aisle.
One Twitter user by the name of @QuartneyChante, was playing
the role of an African American woman, when in fact, it was a Russian agent.
One of those posts had over 66,000 retweets.
“Dear White People. It’s a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life,” the tweet read.
That particular tweet got quite the bit of traction, and was
even picked up in a Mashable article.
Meanwhile, Jankowicz warns of just how quickly conspiracies
can take off.
“That account was created fairly recently and gained a lot of traction quickly, it seems,” Jankowicz said. “It’s pretty sad, but unless accounts use a plausible name and personal photo on Twitter, I’d advise users against interacting with them.”
That’s a good starting point.
The bottom line is, a lot of people bought the “QAnon” hype.
They still buy it, and it will take more than booting those fake accounts off of
social media to convince some of just how duped they were.