Una Mullally: Toxic social media algorithms must stop spreading mad conspiracy cults
Facts and digital literacy must kill off QAnon ‘documentaries’
QAnon conspiracy theorists: There are QAnon “documentaries” loaded with false claims and the conspiracy has been gathering followers across social media, particularly on Facebook. Photograph: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency
Last week, Twitter began suspending accounts that promote the QAnon conspiracy. In May of this year, a small protest took place on O’Connell Street where at least one sign or banner featured the acronym WWG1WGA. That acronym means Where We Go One We Go All, and is one of several mantras associated with QAnon, a conspiracy movement that can be loosely framed as a digital cult, which has been bubbling away online, and increasingly offline, over the past 2½ years.
QAnon emerged from the debunked “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. In 2016, when WikiLeaks published the emails of Hillary Clinton’s then campaign manager, John Podesta, the instigators of the Pizzagate conspiracy falsely claimed that the emails were loaded with code relating to paedophilia and human trafficking. The garbled conversations across online discussion forums including Reddit and 4chan, culminated in a man turning up at a pizzeria in Washington DC called Comet Ping Pong to free non-existent trapped children from a non-existent basement. The following year, someone calling themselves “Q” began posting false claims on the discussion boards 4chan and 8chan that formed the architecture of the ever-evolving QAnon conspiracy. In broad brushstrokes, the conspiracy attests that a group of paedophiles rule the world, and Donald Trump is the saviour who will put an end to their reign by battling internal forces in the US military and government.