If the United States could make up its trade deficit with the international export of lies and conspiracy theories, our nation would be in much better financial shape than it currently is.
The truth of that concept is proven by a recent study in the UK that looked at the anti-vaccine activists in Great Britain and correlated the ideologies that these groups noisily espouse with the exported outrage generated by the QAnon cult that originated in the U.S.
The Guardian reported today on the findings of an analysis conducted by Logically, a technology outfit that attempts to thwart misinformation through “fact checkers and open-source intelligence.”
Logically’s study found first of all that the anti-vax movement in the UK is much smaller than its ubiquitous media presence would suggest.
Rather than representing a silent majority of frustrated British citizens sick of COVID mandates, the analysis found that only 0.32% of the populace (or about 220,00 people) were active in the anti-vaccine movement in the country, as indicated by their membership in a network of groups active on the Telegram messaging app preferred by those behind the movement.
“Group membership was lower than originally expected,” said Jordan Wildon, a Logoically analyst. “There are still a lot of people involved, but given how loud they are and how much attention they receive, they give the impression that they form a much larger group.”
“Alongside that, the notion that they are “the 99%” helps draw others into the movement as they consider themselves to be part of the majority which, as our findings show, couldn’t be further from the truth,” Wildon continued.
While the number of active anti-vax agitators in Great Britain may be smaller than previously thought, the fact that they have chosen the less-heavily policed Telegram social media platform to spread their conspiracy theories after Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube cracked down on QAnon and COVID misinformation has allowed their harmful messages to spread.
“After platforms cracked down on QAnon and Covid disinformation, the rise of Telegram has created a microcosm with much fewer boundaries between groups and ideologies and a far more rapid form of dissemination between them, both at an international level and a national one,” Wildon told The Guardian.
Joe Ondrak, Logically’s head of investigations, believes that UK anti-vaxxers were taken in by QAnon hashtags like “#saveourchildren” when they developed their own British version of a “paedophile, satanic deep state meta-conspiracy to serve as an epistemological frame for Covid.”
America once served as a model for the future of global governance by helping to export democracy and freedom to other countries around the world.
Now, it seems, our nation’s biggest political export consists of literally insane conspiracy theories — remember the idea that the late JFK Jr. will be Donald Trump’s 2024 running mate, for example — and right-wing bullying.
It’s all a sad commentary on what the Trump presidency enabled and unleashed upon the planet. We must fight to restore America’s reputation and influence in the global sphere by thoroughly repudiating QAnon, Trumpism, and the fascist tendencies of the right-wing as soon as possible.
Original reporting by Mark Townsend at The Guardian.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.