The former president, now free to post again on Facebook and Twitter, has increasingly amplified far-right accounts on Truth Social. Experts on extremism worry that he will bring this approach to a far wider audience.
Tag Archives: qanon
The Invention of Elise Stefanik
To rise through the Trump-era G.O.P., a young congresswoman gave up her friends, her mentors and her ideals. Will it be enough?
In the U.S., His Site Has Been Linked to Massacres. In Japan, He’s a Star.
Hiroyuki Nishimura has become a famous voice for disenchanted young Japanese. What he talks much less about is his ownership of the notorious website 4chan.
German Plotters, Long Dismissed as Fringe, Got a Lift From QAnon
Reichsbürger, the movement behind a plan to overthrow Germany’s government, gained momentum from conspiracy theories that grew during the pandemic, turning it into a potent new threat.
How the Pelosi Attack Suspect Plunged Into Online Hatred
David DePape’s life was unstable when he embraced Gamergate and far-right conspiracy theories. He is now accused of breaking into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home and assaulting her husband.
How the Right Became the Left and the Left Became the Right
A pair of prominent headlines highlight the reversals.
In California, Democrats Square Off in Fierce 2022 Warfare
The liberal state, where Democrats often run against fellow Democrats in November thanks to an unconventional election system, is the unlikely backdrop of some of this year’s most bitter political campaigns.
How Disinformation Splintered and Became More Intractable
Ahead of the midterm elections, the proliferation of alternative social media sites has helped cement false and misleading information as a defining feature of American politics.
The Problem of Marjorie Taylor Greene
What the rise of the far-right congresswoman means for the House, the G.O.P. and the nation.
Trump’s Heartless QAnon Embrace
He’s reinforcing life-ruining delusions.
Food Supply Disruption Is Another Front for Russian Falsehoods
As the war in Ukraine has put pressure on the global markets for food, Russia has spread conspiracy theories that blame the West.
Trump Rally Plays Music Resembling QAnon Song, and Crowds React
In Ohio, a dark address by the former president featured music that was all but identical to a theme song for the conspiracy theory movement.
On Truth Social, QAnon Accounts Found a Home and Trump’s Support
Researchers identified 88 users promoting the conspiracy theory on Donald Trump’s platform, and said he had reposted messages 65 times.
QAnon Candidates Aren’t Thriving, but Some of Their Ideas Are
While few with ties to the conspiracy theory are winning their primaries, themes pushed by QAnon followers have become Republican talking points.
Is Life a Story or a Game?
Modern culture has a dehumanizing way of seeing the world.
The Leader of the QAnon Conspiracy Theory Returns
Three posts on Friday night signaled the resurfacing of a figure who used a variety of conspiracy theories to marshal support for Donald J. Trump.
Do You Know Someone Who Believes in Conspiracy Theories? We Want to Hear About It.
Share your experience if you, a friend or a family member believes or once believed in a popular conspiracy theory.
Anne Applebaum on What Liberals Misunderstand About Authoritarianism
The writer discusses what Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism” reveals about the fragility of liberal democracy.
QAnon Joins Vigilantes at the Southern Border
Far-right activists are intercepting migrant children and collecting information about their families, based on an unfounded conspiracy theory that they are falling prey to sex-trafficking rings.
J.R. Majewski, Ohio Winner, Has Expressed Fringe Views on QAnon and Jan. 6
Mr. Majewski, a surprise victor this week in Ohio, has voiced sympathy for QAnon believers and suggested that the F.B.I. drove much of the violence at the Capitol riot.
The Right’s Disney Freakout
How the company got mired in a moral panic.
Republican Senators Play the QAnon Game
On the dishonest questioning during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings.
QAnon Cheers Republican Attacks on Jackson. Democrats See a Signal.
Criticism of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s sentencing decisions emerged as a theme among Republicans — and renewed debate about the party’s stance toward QAnon.
Ketanji Brown Jackson Faces GOP Attacks on Race and Crime
Grilling Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court, conservative senators painted her as a jurist who had coddled criminals and embraced “woke” education.
Twitch Says It Will Bar Chronic Spreaders of Misinformation
The new policy will take down channels that persistently lie about vaccines and election fraud, as well as Russian state-run media.
Who Is Behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints
Using machine learning, separate teams of computer scientists identified the same two men as likely authors of messages that fueled the viral movement.
A Moment for Canada’s Far Right, Still Struggling for Support
The country’s political system has made it hard for fringe groups to gain influence. But a new cause, and fund-raising across borders, could begin to fuel Canadian populists.
‘Q’ Has Been Quiet, but QAnon Lives On
With the absence of a leader, the movement has transformed into more of a “choose your own adventure” conspiracy theory.
What Astroworld, the Rust Shooting and the Surfside Collapse Have In Common
From the Salem witch trials to the Astroworld disaster, conspiracy theories and reformist narratives have battled for dominance in the American consciousness.
QAnon Shaman Sentenced to 41 Months for Role in Capitol Riot
Jacob Chansley, who wore a horned helmet and a fur pelt as he stormed onto the Senate floor during the Capitol riot, had earlier pleaded guilty to a single felony count.
Facebook Employees Warned About Election Misinformation, to Little Effect
Company documents show that the social network’s employees repeatedly raised red flags about the spread of misinformation and conspiracies before and after the contested November vote.
U.S. Antigovernment Groups Are Influencing the French Far Right
The top French intelligence official, who is visiting Washington this week, said QAnon and other conspiracy theories were spreading to Europe.
Capitol Rioter Known as QAnon Shaman Pleads Guilty
Jacob Chansley, who stormed onto the Senate floor in face paint and a horned hat, accepted a deal under which federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 41 to 51 months in prison.
Jacob Chansley, Capitol Rioter Known as QAnon Shaman, Pleads Guilty
Jacob Chansley, who stormed onto the Senate floor in face paint and a horned hat, accepted a deal under which federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 41 to 51 months in prison.
Surf Instructor Claims QAnon Made Him Kill His Children, F.B.I. Says
Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, of Santa Barbara, Calif., abducted his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter and took them to Mexico, the authorities said.
Leaked voting machine BIOS passwords implicate Q-friendly county clerk
Last week, Ron Watkins—conspiracy theorist, QAnon enthusiast, and former 8chan site admin—released photocopies of an installation manual for Dominion voting machines. The copied pages gave basic instructions for configuring BIOS passwords (necessary to change some system settings) and iDRAC, a standard network remote control tool (which the manual explicitly requires the administrator to disable).
The next day, Watkins released a video purporting to be from a “whistleblower” exposing Dominion’s “most egregious lie”—that Dominion can remotely administer the machines, he said. He also released several screenshots of Election Management Systems hardware his “whistleblower” had access to.
Although none of Watkins’ screenshots—which will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s ever administered enterprise-grade hardware—are as damning to the voting machines as Watkins would clearly like, they did end up causing problems for one of Watkins’ fellow travelers: county clerk Tina Peters of Mesa County, Colorado, whose office manages the machines in question.
Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments
Trump, Covid and the Loneliness Breaking America
Authoritarianism attracts isolated people.
The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It
White evangelicals can’t tolerate becoming just another subculture.
Trump’s new lawsuits against social media companies are going nowhere fast
Trump’s spicy trio of lawsuits against the social media platforms that he believes wrongfully banned him have succeeded in showering the former president with a flurry of media attention, but that’s likely where the story ends.
Like Trump’s quixotic and ultimately empty quest to gut Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act during his presidency, the new lawsuits are all sound and fury with little legal substance to back them up.
The suits allege that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube violated Trump’s First Amendment rights by booting him from their platforms, but the First Amendment is intended to protect citizens from censorship by the government — not private industry. The irony that Trump himself was the uppermost figure in the federal government at the time probably won’t be lost on whoever’s lap this case lands in.
In the lawsuits, which also name Twitter and Facebook chief executives Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg as well as Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Susan Wojcicki escapes notice once again!), Trump accuses the three companies of engaging in “impermissible censorship resulting from threatened legislative action, a misguided reliance upon Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and willful participation in joint activity with federal actors.”
The suit claims that the tech companies colluded with “Democrat lawmakers,” the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who served in Trump’s own government at the time.
The crux of the argument is that communication between the tech companies, members of Congress and the federal government somehow transforms Facebook, Twitter and YouTube into “state actors” — a leap of epic proportion:
“Defendant Twitter’s status thus rises beyond that of a private company to that of a state actor, and as such, Defendant is constrained by the First Amendment right to free speech in the censorship decisions it makes.”
Trump’s own Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh issued the court’s opinion on a relevant case two years ago. It examined whether a nonprofit running public access television channels in New York qualified as a “state actor” that would be subject to First Amendment constraints. The court ruled that running the public access channels didn’t transform the nonprofit into a government entity and that it retained a private entity’s rights to make editorial decisions.
“… A private entity… who opens its property for speech by others is not transformed by that fact alone into a state actor,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote in the decision.
It’s not likely that a court would decide that talking to the government or being threatened by the government somehow transform Twitter, YouTube and Facebook into state actors either.
Trump vs. Section 230 (again)
First Amendment aside — and there’s really not much of an argument there — social media platforms are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a concise snippet of law that shields them from liability not just for the user-generated content they host but for the moderation decisions they make about what content to remove.
In line with Trump’s obsessive disdain for tech’s legal shield, the lawsuits repeatedly rail against Section 230. The suits try to argue that because Congress threatened to revoke tech’s 230 protections, that forced them to ban Trump, which somehow makes social media companies part of the government and subject to First Amendment constraints.
Of course, Republican lawmakers and Trump’s own administration made frequent threats about repealing Section 230, not that it changes anything because this line of argument doesn’t make much sense anyway.
The suit also argues that Congress crafted Section 230 to intentionally censor speech that is otherwise protected by the First Amendment, ignoring that the law was born in 1996, well before ubiquitous social media, and for other purposes altogether.
For the four years of his presidency, Trump’s social media activity — his tweets in particular — informed the events of the day, both nationally and globally. While other world leaders and political figures used social media to communicate or promote their actions, Trump’s Twitter account was usually the action itself.
In the shadow of his social media bans, the former president has failed to re-establish lines of communication to the internet at large. In May, he launched a new blog, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” but the site was taken down just a month later after it failed to attract much interest.
The handful of pro-Trump alternative social platforms are still struggling with app store content moderation requirements at odds with their extreme views on free speech, but that didn’t stop Gettr, the latest, from going ahead with its own rocky launch last week.
Viewed in one light, Trump’s lawsuits are a platform too, his latest method for broadcasting himself to the online world that his transgressions eventually cut him off from. In that sense, they seem to have succeeded, but in all other senses, they won’t.
Will Christian America Withstand the Pull of QAnon?
The Southern Baptist Convention appeared more concerned with combating critical race theory than conspiracy theories.
Biden admin will share more info with online platforms on ‘front lines’ of domestic terror fight
The Biden administration is outlining new plans to combat domestic terrorism in light of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and social media companies have their own part to play.
The White House released a new national strategy on countering domestic terrorism Tuesday. The plan acknowledges the key role that online platforms play in bringing violent ideas into the mainstream, going as far as calling social media sites the “front lines” of the war on domestic terrorism.
“The widespread availability of domestic terrorist recruitment material online is a national security threat whose front lines are overwhelmingly private–sector online platforms, and we are committed to informing more effectively the escalating efforts by those platforms to secure those front lines,” the White House plan states.
The Biden administration committed to more information sharing with the tech sector to fight the tide of online extremism, part of a push to intervene well before extremists can organize violence. According to a fact sheet on the new domestic terror plan, the U.S. government will prioritize “increased information sharing with the technology sector,” specifically online platforms where extremism is incubated and organized.
“Continuing to enhance the domestic terrorism–related information offered to the private sector, especially the technology sector, will facilitate more robust efforts outside the government to counter terrorists’ abuse of Internet–based communications platforms to recruit others to engage in violence,” the White House plan states.
In remarks timed with the release of the domestic terror strategy, Attorney General Merrick Garland asserted that coordinating with the tech sector is “particularly important” for interrupting extremists who organize and recruit on online platforms and emphasized plans to share enhanced information on potential domestic terror threats.
In spite of the new initiatives, the Biden administration admits that that domestic terrorism recruitment material will inevitably remain available online, particularly on platforms that don’t prioritize its removal — like most social media platforms, prior to January 2021 — and on end-to-end encrypted apps, many of which saw an influx of users when social media companies cracked down on extremism in the U.S. earlier this year.
“Dealing with the supply is therefore necessary but not sufficient: we must address the demand too,” the White House plan states. “Today’s digital age requires an American population that can utilize essential aspects of Internet–based communications platforms while avoiding vulnerability to domestic terrorist recruitment and other harmful content.”
The Biden administration will also address vulnerability to online extremism through digital literacy programs, including “educational materials” and “skills–enhancing online games” designed to inoculate Americans against domestic extremism recruitment efforts, and presumably disinformation and misinformation more broadly.
The plan stops short of naming domestic terror elements like QAnon and the “Stop the Steal” movement specifically, though it acknowledges the range of ways domestic terror can manifest, from small informal groups to organized militias.
A report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in March observed the elevated threat to the U.S. that domestic terrorism poses in 2021, noting that domestic extremists leverage mainstream social media sites to recruit new members, organize in-person events and share materials that can lead to violence.
My Fellow Republicans, Stop Fearing This Dangerous and Diminished Man
Republicans must authorize an investigation of Jan. 6. Otherwise they enable Trump, feed QAnon and allow the threat of violence to continue.
From Doomsday Preppers to Doomsday Plotters
Far-right movements have long dreamed of a moment that ends society as we’ve known it. Now, experts say, so-called accelerationist thinking is proliferating in ways that could destabilize democracy.
Death of QAnon Follower at Capitol Leaves a Wake of Pain
Rosanne Boyland had never voted before 2020, but she fell prey to dark conspiracy theories, family members said. She died on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and they are still not sure why.
QAnon Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions, Poll Suggests
Fifteen percent of Americans believe that “patriots may have to resort to violence” to restore the country’s rightful order, the poll indicated.
Extremists Find a Financial Lifeline on Twitch
QAnon adherents and other far-right influencers are making thousands of dollars broadcasting election and vaccine conspiracy theories on the streaming site.
A Teacher Marched to the Capitol. When She Got Home, the Fight Began.
Kristine Hostetter was a beloved fourth-grade teacher. Then came the pandemic, the election and the Jan. 6 riot in Washington.
One Republican’s Lonely Fight Against a Flood of Disinformation
After losing an ugly congressional race last year, Denver Riggleman is leading a charge against the conspiracy-mongering coursing through his party. He doesn’t have many allies.
Why QAnon Flopped in Japan
It failed the test for conspiracy connoisseurs, and the public.