Disinformation specialists aren’t joyful concerning the trailer for HBO’s QAnon collection
The teaser video for Q: Into the Storm, an upcoming documentary collection from HBO concerning the QAnon conspiracy motion has quite a lot of deplatforming specialists involved; it seems to be extra like a preview for a spy thriller than a cautious examination of the umbrella group of conspiracy theories.
The breathless tone may be efficient at constructing hype, but it surely has many disinformation specialists involved. Ben Collins, one of many main journalists protecting on-line radicalization, tweeted that the trailer was “being marketed in a means that would recruit extra individuals.” Promoted by HBO as a collection that “charts a labyrinthine journey to unmask the mastermind behind QAnon,” critics identified that the trailer felt so much like “a recruitment video for Q.”
disinfo neighborhood: *soberly* how can we stability protection and inadvertent amplification of QAnon? How can we carry individuals again to actuality in a sensible, empathetic means?
HBO: *BRAAAAM (inception sounds)* watch our $30m documentary on how QAnon is HARDCORE and FUCKING CRAZY!!! https://t.co/HXfoDPPzjr
— Emerson T. Brooking (@etbrooking) February 26, 2021
Joan Donovan, analysis director on the Shorenstein Heart on Media, Politics and Public Coverage at Harvard, instructed GadgetClock that, by portraying Q as edgy and thrilling, the trailer risked attracting much more individuals to the trigger.
“Probably the most regarding side to me is that the reuse of footage discovered on-line pieced collectively in 6 hours of conspiracist content material might be validation for the modern motion and drive extra content material/curiosity,” Donovan mentioned in a message to GadgetClock. “It’s not like we’re 5 years from the rebellion. Q influencers will use the very fact of their participation within the documentary to sap extra individuals for donations and construct a extra loyal viewers at a time when many are struggling to include this anti-Semitic and racist networked conspiracy.”
It’s arduous to say how a lot of these issues will carry over to the documentary itself. The trailer is lower than a minute lengthy, and the docuseries was the results of a three-year international investigation, in response to HBO. So it’s doable the collection strikes the suitable tone in the way it presents QAnon and its origins, in addition to its future. The press launch asserting the collection says it is going to “study the affect of QAnon on American tradition and query the results of unfettered free speech permeating the darkest corners of the Web.”
Donovan mentioned she hoped the trailer was a hoax, and that the precise movie will present individuals talking about how believing in QAnon ruined their relationships with their households and mates, however she wasn’t optimistic. “One way or the other I doubt that would be the case,” she mentioned.
QAnon started on 4chan in 2017, when an nameless particular person posting as “Q Clearance Patriot” mentioned they’d entry to categorised info exhibiting then-President Donald Trump was preventing a world cabal of pedophiles, whose ranks included celebrities and Democratic politicians. QAnon’s followers additionally strongly ascribed to the view —falsely pushed by Trump— that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and plenty of Q proponents have been linked to the January sixth assault on the US Capitol.
Journalists have struggled with tips on how to greatest cowl QAnon; reporting on it with out being adequately on top of things, information retailers ran the danger of amplifying and legitimizing a few of the group’s extra harmful views. On the similar time, ignoring QAnon’s followers or dismissing them as fringe may permit it to metastasize. Considered one of HBO’s promotions for Q: Into the Storm promised that the collection will “pull again the curtain” on the group, however with out the suitable context, may additional muddy the general public’s understanding of QAnon and its attain.
Throughout its heyday, there have been hundreds of Q-related Fb teams and Q-related accounts on Twitter and Reddit. Most platforms have banned, or tried to ban, Q-related content material and hashtags, however with combined success. “QAnon is dependent upon centuries-old anti-Jewish tropes and anti-Black narratives concerning the trendy civil rights motion,” Donovan says. “However it’s not that sophisticated.”
HBO declined to remark.
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