On the face of it, you might think that the QAnon conspiracy has largely disappeared from big social media sites. But that’s not quite the case.
True, you’re much less likely to find popular QAnon catchphrases like “great awakening,” “the storm” or “trust the plan” on Facebook these days. Facebook and Twitter have removed tens of thousands of accounts dedicated to the baseless conspiracy theory, which depicts former President Donald Trump as a hero fighting a secret battle against a sect of devil-worshipping pedophiles who dominate Hollywood, big business, the media and government.
Gone are the huge “Stop the Steal” groups that spread falsehoods about the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. Trump is gone as well, banned from Twitter permanently and suspended from posting on Facebook until 2023.
But QAnon is far from winding down. Federal intelligence officials recently warned that its adherents could commit more violence, like the deadly Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. At least one open supporter of QAnon has been elected to Congress. In the four years since someone calling themselves “Q” started posting enigmatic messages on fringe internet discussions boards, QAnon has grown up.
That’s partly because QAnon now encompasses a variety of conspiracy theories, from evangelical or religious angles to alleged pedophilia in Hollywood and the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, said Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab who focuses on domestic extremism. “Q-specific stuff is sort of dwindling,” he said. But the worldviews and conspiracy theories that QAnon absorbed are still with us.
Loosely tying these movements together is a general distrust of a powerful, often leftist elite. Among the purveyors of anti-vaccine falsehoods, adherents of Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and believers in just about any other worldview convinced that a shadowy cabal secretly controls things.
For social platforms, dealing with this faceless, shifting and increasingly popular mindset is a far more complicated challenge than they’ve dealt with in the past.
These ideologies “have cemented their place and now are a part of American folklore,” said Max Rizzuto, another researcher at DFRLab. “I don’t think we’ll ever see it disappear.”
Online, such groups now blend into the background. Where Facebook groups once openly referenced QAnon, you’ll now see others like “Since you missed this in the so called MSM,” a reference to the mainstream media. This page boasts more than 4,000 followers who post links to clips of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and links to articles from right-wing publications such as Newsmax and the Daily Wire.
Subjects range from allegedly rampant crime to unfounded claims of widespread election fraud and an “outright war on conservatives.” Such groups aim to draw followers in deeper by directing them to further information on less-regulated sites such as Gab or Parler.
When DFRLab analyzed more than 40 million appearances of QAnon catchphrases and related terms on social media this spring, it found that their presence on mainstream platforms had declined significantly in recent months. After peaks in the late summer of 2020 and briefly on Jan. 6, QAnon catchphrases have largely evaporated from mainstream sites, DFRLab found.
So while your friends and relatives might not be posting wild conspiracies about Hillary Clinton drinking children’s blood, they might instead be repeating debunked claims such as that vaccines can alter your DNA.
There are several reasons for dwindling Q talk — Trump losing the presidential election, for instance. But the single biggest factor appears to have been the QAnon crackdown on Facebook and Twitter. Despite well-documented mistakes that revealed spotty enforcement, the banishment largely appears to have worked. It is more difficult to come across blatant QAnon accounts on mainstream social media sites these days, at least from the publicly available data that does not include, for instance, hidden Facebook groups and private messages.
But while QAnon groups, pages and core accounts may be gone, many of their supporters remain on the big platforms — only now they’re camouflaging their language and watering down the most extreme tenets of QAnon to make them more palatable.
“There was a very, very explicit effort within the QAnon community to to camouflage their language,” said Angelo Carusone, the president and CEO of Media Matters, a liberal research group that has followed QAnon’s rise. “So they stopped using a lot of the codes, the triggers, the keywords that were eliciting the kinds of enforcement actions against them.”
Other dodges may have also helped. Rather than parroting Q slogans, for instance, for a while earlier this year supporters would type three asterisks next to their name to signal adherence to the conspiracy theory. (That’s a nod to former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, a three-star general).
Facebook says it has removed about 3,300 pages, 10,500 groups, 510 events, 18,300 Facebook profiles and 27,300 Instagram accounts for violating its policy against QAnon. “We continue to consult with experts and improve our enforcement in response to how harm evolves, including by recidivist groups,” the company said in a statement.
But the social giant will still cut individuals posting about QAnon slack, citing experts who warn that banning individual Q adherents “may lead to further social isolation and danger,” the company said. Facebook’s policies and response to QAnon continue to evolve. Since last August, the company says it has added dozens of new terms as the movement and its language has evolved.
Twitter, meanwhile, says it has consistently taken action against activity that could lead to offline harm. After the Jan. 6 insurrection, the company began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that it said were “primarily dedicated” to sharing dangerous QAnon material. Twitter said it has suspended 150,000 such accounts to date. Like Facebook, the company says its response is also evolving.
But the crackdown may have come too late. Carusone, for instance, noted that Facebook banned QAnon groups tied to violence six weeks before it banned QAnon more broadly. That effectively gave followers notice to regroup, camouflage and move to different platforms.
“If there were ever a time for a social media company to take a stand on QAnon content, it would have been like months ago, years ago,” DFRLabs’ Rizzuto said.
Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
Hollywood Enlists Asian Media in US-Led $71 Billion Piracy Fight – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Hollywood studios battling online piracy have enlisted the first Asian members of an industry coalition set up to seek out and shut down illegal streaming sites.
The Hong Kong-based streaming service Viu and True Visions, a leading Thai pay-TV provider, will be the first Asian companies to join the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, whose members include Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and other major media companies.
The alliance is part of the US Motion Picture Association and has 39 members, with plans to enlist other players in Latin America and elsewhere. Dues from the media organizations are used to finance legal fights against the theft of content.
Piracy has been on the rise during the pandemic, costing US entertainment companies an estimated $29 billion to $71 billion in lost revenue annually, according to executives at the organization. And media companies typically notice, and act on, copyright and intellectual property theft before police.
“We now have local partners fighting this local fight, who can connect to local law enforcement,” Charles Rivkin, chairman of the alliance and the Motion Picture Association, said in an interview. “It’s a whole lot more effective when you have a local player come in with the MPA than the MPA just parachuting in on our own and trying to make headway.”
While the organization is mostly made of US companies, including all of the major Hollywood studios and streaming services that form the MPA trade group, it also has international partners. BBC Worldwide and Vivendi SE’s Canal+ are two of its biggest European members. Rivkin said he has long sought to expand the group’s footprint in Asia-Pacific, where some of the largest illegal streaming sites are run.
Viu is one of the biggest streaming platforms in Asia, with 58.6 million monthly active users, according to the company. True Visions is a cable and satellite TV operator based in Thailand, and last month helped the alliance and local police arrest an alleged content pirate and shut down his website.
“We recognize the need to address the piracy that is widespread in our markets,” Marianne Lee, chief of content acquisition and development at Viu, said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring consumers move from illegal piracy sites to legal options.”
While Hollywood has battled film and TV piracy for years, it became particularly problematic after major studios made their content more readily accessible online during pandemic lockdowns. John Fithian, the head of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said in April piracy was so widespread in 2021 that studios scrapped plans to debut their big, new films online rather than in theaters.
The alliance says it’s also looking to partner with major sports leagues across the world, since they are also the target of digital content thieves. In April, ACE added beIN Media Group, one of the biggest international sports broadcasters, to its ranks.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
Boston media explodes after Red Sox blow it without unvaccinated closer Houck – Sportsnet.ca
Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 situation, in sports and around the world, is constantly evolving. Readers in Canada can consult the country’s public health website for the latest.
The Boston media is known for being tough on their teams at all times.
It reaches another level, though, when something like Tuesday night happens.
And wouldn’t you know it, his absence loomed large on Tuesday when the Blue Jays scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 win over the Red Sox.
Longtime Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and other members of the Boston media were quick to post their feelings on Twitter.
Without Houck, the Red Sox asked Tyler Danish, who pitched the eighth, to go back out for the ninth.
But Danish, who has zero career saves, let the first two runners on. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to replace him with Hansel Robles.
Robles wasn’t any more successful, giving up RBI singles to Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to end it.
When asked if the situation made him more frustrated about the vaccination situation, Cora said no.
“We go with the 26 that are here, and we try to get 27 outs and we didn’t do it,” Cora said.
The Blue Jays have now won five of six against the Red Sox in Toronto this season heading into Wednesday’s series finale when Toronto will start ace Alek Manoah.
And, maybe just maybe, the same two teams will play in the same venue in October.
Media Release – June 29, 2022 – Guelph Police – Guelph Police Service
Fake gun call doesn’t work
A male who reported a bogus firearms incident in an attempt to avoid being arrested instead faces additional charges.
Approximately 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Guelph Police Service officers located a stolen motorcycle in a downtown parking lot. Investigation led them to an apartment unit where they believed the responsible male was hiding.
While officers were on scene, a 911 call was received by the communications centre reporting a male with a firearm at a business on Eramosa Road. Several officers responded and determined the report was fake and intended to draw officers away from the downtown apartment.
After extensive negotiations, a male was arrested just before 9:30 p.m. A 38-year-old Guelph male is charged with possessing stolen property over $5,000, public mischief and failing to comply with a release order. He was held for a bail hearing Wednesday.
Male charged with impaired, mischief
A Guelph male was charged with mischief after smearing feces on a surveillance camera at the Guelph Police station following his arrest for impaired driving.
Just after 6 p.m Tuesday, the Guelph Police Service received reports of an erratic driver in the area of Woodlawn Road West and Imperial Road North. A short time later the running vehicle was located at the owner’s residence with the male still sitting inside. Officers detected an odour of alcoholic beverage on his breath and observed an empty beer can inside the vehicle. Testing at the police station confirmed the male had more than the legal amount of alcohol in his system.
While the male was being held awaiting his release, he began to cover a cellblock camera with a pillow. After the pillow was taken away he used his hand to smear feces on the camera lens.
A 47-year-old Guelph male is charged with impaired operation and mischief. His driver’s licence was suspended for 90 days and his vehicle was impounded for seven days. He will appear in a Guelph court July 12, 2022.
Male arrested for break and enter
A Guelph male has been arrested nearly two months after a north-end garage was entered.
On May 8, a resident in the area of Victoria Road North and Ingram Drive reported a break-in to his garage. Video surveillance showed a vehicle stopping in front of the house approximately 3:20 a.m. A male entered the garage and stole tools and other items.
A suspect was identified from the video and arrested Tuesday.
A 32-year-old Guelph male is charged with break and enter, prowl at night and breach of probation. He will appear in a Guelph bail court July 5, 2022.
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