Countering QAnon: Understanding the Role of Human Trafficking in the Disinformation-Extremist Nexus
In the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, it was found that many of the rioters were supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement. QAnon’s main premise is that prominent members of the Democratic Party and Hollywood elite comprise a transnational ring of Satan-worshiping pedophiles engaging in sex trafficking and cannibalism, and that Donald Trump is championing the fight against all of this. To better understand what threats these beliefs pose, Polaris has released a study that investigates the links between QAnon, sex trafficking, and violent extremism.
Titled Countering QAnon: Understanding the Role of Human Trafficking in the Disinformation-Extremist Nexus, the researches analyze activity on various social media platforms to measure how “weaponized disinformation” is used to further the QAnon movement, and recruit new supporters. Among the key findings, the authors report that as of January 7, 2021, “41.2 percent of U.S. adults believe elites, politicians, and/or celebrities are involved in global pedophilia rings and we need to #SaveOurChildren.” Additionally, “21 percent of U.S. adults self-identify as QAnon believers.”
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