Reuters is reporting that Russia’s Internet Research Agency is attempting to use social media accounts to boost the role of conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon. According to the report:
August 20, 2020 (Reuters) — Russian government-supported organizations are playing a small but increasing role amplifying conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon, raising concerns of interference in the November U. S. election. Academics who study QAnon said there were no signs Russia had a hand in the early days of the movement, which launched in 2017 with anonymous web postings amplified by YouTube videos. But as QAnon gained adherents and took on new topics — with President Donald Trump as the constant hero waging a misunderstood battle — social media accounts tied to a key Kremlin ally joined in. In 2019, accounts removed by Twitter and suspected of being controlled by Russia’s Internet Research Agency sent a high volume of tweets tagged with #QAnon and the movement slogan #WWG1WGA, short for Where We Go One, We Go All, said Melanie Smith, head of analysis at social media analysis firm Graphika. The IRA was indicted by Robert Mueller in his election interference prosecution. More recently, Russian government-backed media RT. com and Sputnik 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 novel coronavirus and more. Alethea Group disinformation expert Cindy Otis, a former CIA analyst, said RT, Sputnik and other Kremlin-backed media have been writing more about QAnon, using it to fit into their broader narrative of: “The U. S. is falling apart, look how much division there is.”After Twitter banned thousands of QAnon accounts last month, RT. com predicted the move would backfire by directing more attention to the cause, adding that “it gave QAnon followers the validation they craved.”
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According to the BBC, QAnon is:
…a wide-ranging, unfounded conspiracy theory that says that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and the media .QAnon believers have speculated that this fight will lead to a day of reckoning where prominent people such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be arrested and executed.
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The Internet Research Agency (IRA) is a Russian company based in St. Peterburg which is engaged in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests. It is sometimes described as a “troll farm” and is linked to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In February 2018, a United States grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities, including the Internet Research Agency and Prigozhin, on charges of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes in support of the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. The indictment said that the IRA sought to wage “information warfare” against the United States and to “sow discord” in the American political system by using fictitious American personas and social media platforms and other Internet-based media.