QAnon turns #SaveTheChildren movement into a pedo-ring conspiracy

By: Brianna Zhang

Formerly a hashtag used to fundraise for the Save the Children charity, followers of QAnon have turned #SaveTheChildren into a platform for their child trafficking conspiracies.

Followers of QAnon believe that Trump is on the verge of exposing many prominent Democrat figures of child trafficking and Satan worship. They have nicknamed these conspiracies “Pizzagate” and “Pedogate”.

QAnon first came to light in 2017 on anonymous forum website, 4Chan, a website infamous for its neo-Nazi and white supremacist usership. The conspiracies began with posts to the site claiming to reveal high-level government intelligence about crimes committed by top Democrats. These posts consequentially began the most disturbing and problematic conspiracy community in the world. Its followers commit to outing and doxxing people they believe are involved in the pedo-ring. The FBI considers QAnon a potential domestic terror threat, and social networks are beginning to remove QAnon groups from their sites.

To attract more members, QAnon takes their beliefs around the internet, hijacking different sites and groups to spread their message.

An example of this is “wayfairgate”, a conspiracy that online furniture store Wayfair was trafficking kidnapped children in expensive wardrobes and cabinets. This conspiracy went viral on TikTok and Twitter and QAnon followers sprinkled in their own false evidence that a Wayfair employee had connections with Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s friend.

The allegations intrigued innocent internet users, who shared the wild conspiracy theories that came straight out of QAnon’s books.

“With Wayfair, both accounts on the left and right were amplifying the content,” said Marc-André Argentino, a doctoral student at Concordia University who studies QAnon’s social media presence. “A lot of the yoga moms and juice-cleanse-type circles were sharing it.”

Other times, QAnon followers stretch true information into something that will aid their cause. Last week, an Associated Press article outed Trump for providing $35 million to organizations that house trafficking survivors, which became one of the most-shared stories on Facebook after QAnon groups began citing it as evidence that Trump was already crusading against elite pedophiles.

QAnon’s strategies of manipulating different online audiences into believing their content. In recent weeks, Facebook engagement on human-trafficking-related content has increased drastically, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned data platform.

Social media sites are doing their best to try to remove QAnon-related content and hashtags to prevent the further spread of false information.



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