Russian-backed organisations amplifying QAnon conspiracy theories, researchers say

Russian government-backed organisations are amplifying conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon, raising concerns of interference in the November US election, academics who study QAnon said.

The movement, launched in 2017 with anonymous web postings amplified by YouTube videos, is popular among supporters of US president Donald Trump. It claims that Trump is working to bring down an international child sex-trafficking ring run by satanic global elites, including Hollywood celebrities and the “deep state”.

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Russian government-backed organisations are amplifying conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon, raising concerns of interference in the November US election, academics who study QAnon said.

The movement, launched in 2017 with anonymous web postings amplified by YouTube videos, is popular among supporters of US president Donald Trump. It claims that Trump is working to bring down an international child sex-trafficking ring run by satanic global elites, including Hollywood celebrities and the “deep state”.

Researchers at Graphika, Stanford University and elsewhere, said there were no signs Russia was involved in the early days of the movement, but added that, as QAnon took on new topics, social media accounts controlled by a key Kremlin ally joined in.

Earlier, Russian government-backed media have stepped up coverage of QAnon, which began with a false proclamation Hillary Clinton would be arrested for an undetermined reason and now includes theories about child trafficking by Hollywood elites, the coronavirus and more.

“Though Russia is only one foreign actor capable of targeting US political audiences through the QAnon community, its history of operations appear to be the most ideologically aligned with the overarching QAnon theory. Russia also appears to have made the most effort to gain credibility within the community thus far”, the report said.