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October 6, 2020, 11.17 PM

HONG KONG, – The coronavirus pandemic has fueled the global popularity and movement of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The group's conspiracy movement has exploded from the US political fringe into the global mainstream during the Covid-19 crisis where it is powered by fear, anger, and Big Tech’s algorithms.

The influence of its conspiracy theories can be seen at anti-lockdown and anti-mask rallies from Los Angeles, to London, Berlin, and Melbourne -- with protesters warning, without evidence, that the coronavirus pandemic is a conspiracy by a cabal of satanist pedophiles who control the world.

Read also: Twitter Cracks Down on Accounts Linked to QAnon Group

Experts say QAnon has grown sharply during the coronavirus pandemic because it acted as a binding force -- mixing its core tenet with long-running conspiracy theories about vaccines and 5G mobile technology, anti-Semitic and white supremacist tropes, as well as far-right and libertarian politics.

"In some ways, the coronavirus pandemic has created the perfect storm for conspiracy theories like QAnon to grow," Mackenzie Hart, a disinformation researcher at the London-based ISD think tank, told AFP.

"Not only are people stuck inside and spending more time online, but people are scared. When people are scared, conspiracy theories provide easy answers."

ISD's analysis of QAnon-related posts on major social media platforms showed explosive growth between March and June this year -- nearly 175 percent on Facebook, 77.1 percent on Instagram, and 63.7 percent on Twitter.

This rise happened as coronavirus infections were spiking around the world, forcing governments to tighten social distancing rules and impose lockdowns of varying intensity.

While QAnon content has remained most dominant in the United States, researchers have found related social media content originating from around 70 countries.

Read also: QAnon Supporter Marjorie Greene Wins GOP Seat in Georgia

Many QAnon followers believe the coronavirus is a conspiracy to take away people's liberties and control them using 5G and vaccines.

Some have branded it a "Plandemic", accusing prominent figures such as Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton and even Tom Hanks of involvement.

Its adherents have offered no credible evidence for any of it.

Read also: Covax Initiative to Supply Covid-19 Vaccine to World’s Poor Faces Trouble


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