The books that actually predicted Coronavirus. Facebook announced last Tuesday that it would begin removing all QAnon content on Facebook pages, groups, and on Instagram. [33] The artist Arrington de Dionyso, who once had painted a mural at the pizzeria that had been painted over several years before the controversy, described the campaign of harassment against him in detail,[34] and said of the attacks in general, "I think it's a very deliberate assault, which will eventually be a coordinated assault on all forms of free expression." In a post on Reddit, he described himself as vulnerable and insecure. [8] In response, a man from North Carolina traveled to Comet Ping Pong to investigate the conspiracy and fired a rifle inside the restaurant. What these women in Daisy's life – and thousands like them – are speaking of is the powerful and dangerous far-right U.S conspiracy theory, QAnon, currently spreading like wildfire in the UK – where it now has the second largest following on the planet. Before restrictions eased in June, he barely left the house. [75] Syndicated columnist Daniel Ruth wrote that the conspiracy theorists' assertions were "dangerous and damaging false allegations" and that they were "repeatedly debunked, disproved and dismissed". [64] The Charlotte Observer noted the diverse group of sources that had debunked the conspiracy theory and pointed out that this included the Fox News Channel in addition to The New York Times.[44]. Throw into the mix legitimate concerns surrounding the death in custody of convicted child sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, the subsequent arrest of his ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, and his numerous high-profile associates and it is perhaps easy to see why so many are falling prey to the theories. [50], Welch told police he had read online that the Comet restaurant was harboring child sex slaves and that he wanted to see for himself if they were there. “He hasn't said that, like, Obama is drinking the blood of children – he hasn't said that kind of thing, not yet.” There’s a chance, Emily feels, that Thomas could be “saved” from his newfound beliefs. “She’d say she was just asking questions about whether there ‘could be something to’ the Q stuff.” Online, however, his neighbour shows a more serious commitment to QAnon. This site uses cookies to improve your experience and deliver personalised advertising. “Difficult times like these are threatening and people are looking for explanations that make them feel better,” explains Karen Douglas, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kent. “When you see a new community emerge who are so heavily indoctrinated into a worldview as upside down and detached from reality as QAnon is, the conspiracy theory itself becomes virulent,” he tells me. Susan says her brother’s obsession with QAnon reminds her of his drug addiction as a teenager. [79][80][81], A poll of voters conducted on December 17–20 by The Economist/YouGov asked voters if they believed that "Leaked e-mails from the Clinton campaign talked about pedophilia and human trafficking - 'Pizzagate'." Press into a greased 12-in. Why are we still fighting to feed the UK's vulnerable children? This is what Emily believes happened to Thomas. I don't think he will be.”, “At the end of the day,” she says, “in order to even believe in some parts of QAnon, you already have to be quite far down the rabbit hole.”, [see also: Donald Trump’s use of conspiracy theories means his diagnosis is already being questioned]. In March 2016, the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack. “They can ignore you,” he says, “but they can't ignore that unsettled feeling that things aren't adding up as they should.”. While no one has ever come forward as Q, an investigation by NBC in the States pointed to two 4chan moderators calling themselves Pamphlet Anon and BaruchtheScribe who had once reached out to the minor YouTube star, Tracy Diaz, who helped popularise the 2016 PizzaGate theory. It has been extensively discredited by a wide range of organizations, including the Washington, D.C. police.. This imaginary connection may sound risible, but it can be explained by a darker association. [86], In February 2017, Alefantis' lawyers sent Jones a letter demanding an apology and retraction. "[88], In November 2016, Michael Flynn, then on President-Elect Donald Trump's transition team and Trump's designate for National Security Advisor, posted multiple tweets on Twitter containing conspiratorial material regarding Hillary Clinton. [4] Images of children of family and friends of the pizzeria's staff were taken from social media sites such as Instagram and claimed to be photos of victims. Rachel Reins*, 38, from Manchester is one such mother who has found herself getting lost in QAnon theory since the beginning of lockdown. Rather than questioning a believer’s behaviour, he argues that chipping away at the “credibility” of QAnon itself can sometimes be more effective. [15] The Conservative Daily Post ran a headline claiming the Federal Bureau of Investigation had confirmed the theory.[18]. Even now, with my dad, we just don’t talk about it.”, That said, Jadeja continues to work towards helping people become “de-programmed” from QAnon. The theory took hold following the leak of Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails in 2016 and alleged that Clinton and her 2016 Presidential campaign manager, John Podesta, were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of Washington D.C. pizza parlour, Comet Ping Pong. One in particular sticks to mind: “You all need to wake up before it’s too late” she wrote, much to the shock of the rest of the class. [10] The sub was banned on November 23, 2016, for violating Reddit's anti-doxing policy after users posted personal details of people connected to the alleged conspiracy. Now, Jadeja co-moderates the subreddit r/reQovery: “A forum for ex-QAnon believers to vent, receive emotional support, and share news and commentary about QAnon”, as well as its sister subreddit, r/QAnonCasualties, where friends and families of radicalised loved ones can gain that same support and seek advice on how to help tear them away from QAnon. They are both now on the national sex offender registry. The QAnon conspiracy theory is absurd but dangerous. [74], In an interview with NPR on November 27, 2016, Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis referred to the conspiracy theory as "an insanely complicated, made-up, fictional lie-based story" and a "coordinated political attack". [63], The conspiracy theory has been widely discredited and debunked. [93] Spokesman Jason Miller did not identify the reason for his dismissal, however, The New York Times reported that other officials had confirmed it was related to the tweet. One of the establishments allegedly involved was the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C.[6][7], Members of the alt-right, conservative journalists, and others who had urged Clinton's prosecution over the emails, spread the conspiracy theory on social media outlets such as 4chan, 8chan, and Twitter. People in Wales are up in arms as Tesco brands period products as 'non-essential items', Who doesn't love a conspiracy theory film? [13][96], In April, a documentary promoting Pizzagate, Out of Shadows, was made by a former Hollywood stuntman and released on YouTube. [44] Stefanie MacWilliams, who wrote an article promoting the conspiracy on Planet Free Will, was subsequently reported by the Toronto Star as saying, "I really have no regrets and it's honestly really grown our audience." “They are massively resistant,” Daniel tells me of trying to challenge his neighbours in Hampshire, who started sharing QAnon content on Facebook over the summer, including “loads of passive aggressive posts... about how other people need to be more open-minded”. One of the videos I had watched mentioned a lot of mind control which then led me to believe that maybe half of these celebrities and other influential people are being controlled into taking part in these horrific things! Their relationship is one of those rare ones where, in their mid-twenties, they are still friends. [2][16] Proponents also claimed that Comet Ping Pong pizzeria was a meeting ground for Satanic ritual abuse. The tweet was shared by over 9,000 people, but was deleted from Flynn's account sometime during December 12–13, 2016. I don’t think there’s anything you can do. [10] Another band, Sex Stains, had closed the comments of their YouTube videos and addressed the controversy in the description of their videos. He said he threatened Besta to "save the kids", and "finish what the other guy didn't". In April, Jessica Prim, an alleged QAnon devotee was arrested after driving to New York City with 18 knives allegedly to assassinate Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. [48] He surrendered after officers surrounded the restaurant and was arrested without incident. [76], Despite the conspiracy theory being debunked, it continued to spread on social media, with over one million messages using hashtag #Pizzagate on Twitter in November 2016. He says that one of his biggest regrets is talking about it with his father, who he says is now more invested in the conspiracy theory than he himself ever was. [26][27] Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor of media analytics at Elon University, said that a disproportionate number of tweets about Pizzagate came from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, and Vietnam, and that some of the most frequent retweeters were bots. “The government are stopping us from breathing, stopping us from being human beings all because of some invisible virus that only affects people with severe underlying conditions which I doubt is even true!

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