Into the Rise of QAnon During the Pandemic

You should be paying attention to the QAnon conspiracy theory. Here’s why.

About this episode:

The vast internet conspiracy theory known as QAnon began in 2017 with a single post to the online message board site 4chan. The beliefs associated with QAnon range from the merely strange to the downright dangerous. Followers believe a ring of devil-worshipping pedophiles run the country and are plotting against President Trump, who they say is here to save the world. They say this Satanic ring includes top Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as Hollywood celebrities. QAnon’s beliefs are false, but they’ve seeped into the mainstream; a QAnon supporter from Georgia is likely to be elected to Congress in November.

QAnon aggressively pursues potential followers via social media, relying heavily on Facebook’s algorithms, which have often recommended increasingly extreme groups to users who have demonstrated an interest in things like alternative medicine and “energy shifts.” During the coronavirus pandemic, these baseless conspiracy theories are catching on with many people who are stuck at home and feeling lonely and vulnerable. This has serious consequences for the safety of the country; QAnon has pushed anti-mask and anti-vaccination rhetoric during the pandemic.

On the latest Into America, Trymaine Lee talks to Ben Collins, a reporter for NBC News who covers disinformation, extremism and the internet. He's been reporting on QAnon for years, and he says we should all be paying attention.

Find the transcript here.

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