The Genesis of a Conspiracy Theory

Authors: Aoife Gallagher, Jacob Davey, Mackenzie Hart

Date: 24/07/2020

QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy theory that claims that an elite group of child-trafficking paedophiles have been ruling the world for a number of decades and that President Trump has a secret plan in place to bring this group to justice. This briefing paper provides an overview of the key trends in activity around the QAnon conspiracy theory from 2017 to 2020. Crucially it points to major spikes in QAnon activity in March 2020, suggesting both an increase in activity  to promote the conspiracy theory  and the spread of this conspiracy to new audiences.

 

The Long Tail of Influence Operations: A Case Study on News Front

This case study examines two websites and two blogging accounts which appear to be linked to News Front, a Crimean-based news organisation previously accused of being a source of pro-Kremlin disinformation and influence operations. While the impact of the site’s activity is low, the case study provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the broader disinformation ecosystem and sheds light on the long tail of state-linked online assets.