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Oscar Wong

Investigative reporter tries to understand why mom groups on social media are overrun by QAnon

You’ve probably noticed that memes and social posts about child trafficking are everywhere these days and not only that, the same people who share posts about alleged trafficking rings are often the same people who don’t believe in vaccines or wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While sex trafficking is a very real problem in our country, this obsession with a QAnon-backed version of the truth has led well-meaning individuals into believing that Hollywood elites are basically vampires, Netflix is pushing a pedophile agenda, and children are being shipped in cabinets via home decor retailers like Wayfair.

Children are being trafficked every day in this country, but it has nothing to do with celebrities or The Gates Foundation or whatever weird stuff some lady in your neighborhood shared in a Facebook meme. Mother Jones set out to explore this connection between the bizarre QAnon theories and how it has infiltrated mom groups during the pandemic.

To understand why the anti-maskers in your mom’s group are now losing their minds over child trafficking conspiracies, you first have to understand what QAnon is. According to CBS News, “those who subscribe to the QAnon conspiracy theory believe that a person who posts messages on the 4Chan and 8Chan internet message boards under the name ‘Q’ is a high-ranking government official. And according to Q, Mr. Trump is on the verge of exposing a cabal of pedophiles, globalists, and celebrities who secretly control America.”

Once upon a time (and by that, I mean, in 2016) conspiracy theorists were wackos who literally believed that Hillary Clinton and Chrissy Teigen were running a child trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor. It was easy to laugh it off because, uh, it was insane, but since the pandemic began, QAnon conspiracy theories have rebranded from #PizzaGate to the more empathetic #SaveOurChildren and now many well-meaning and seemingly level-headed moms who want to protect their kids genuinely believe that President Trump is about to expose an intricate web of pedophilia. These conspiracy theorists also believe that the media is covering up any news about this alleged child abuse because the media, along with these supposed powerful pedophiles, are all conspiring together with celebrities, and the government, and Dr. Fauci, and The WHO, and the CDC, and they are all part of what conspiracy theorists call the “Deep State,” and the “Deep State” cannot be trusted. So basically, QAnon truthers don’t trust anyone — except for Donald Trump and an anonymous person named Q, of course.

Moderators of moms and other parenting groups on Facebook shared with Mother Jones how they cannot keep up with the amount of posts in their Facebook groups that are tied to conspiracy theories lately. One woman who moderates a mom’s group in Southern California said that before March, she would occasionally remove posts linked to conspiracy theories and now she removes 30 to 50 posts every week. On the other end, these QAnon conspiracies are also popping up in what the writer of the piece, Kiera Butler, calls “holistic child-rearing and natural birth communities,” aka communities that are already pretty anti-vax and anti-science to begin with. Apparently, the jump from anti-science to “elite Hollywood pedophiles are controlling the government” is a short one.

AZ Central covered a local couple who went viral for attempting to investigate the alleged Wayfair scandal on their own, and AZ Central hypothesized that these child trafficking conspiracies are more rampant than usual because the pandemic forced everyone into their own homes and onto their computers, where they can obsess and look into facts that corroborate their new paranoid world view.

Seema Yasmin, a Stanford physician and expert on health misinformation told Mother Jones that she’s not shocked by this insurgence of conspiracy theories. “Conspiracies, Yasmin says, thrive in the absence of clear and consistent guidance from leaders,” Butler writes.

“We are in a state of heightened anxiety and fear, and we’re looking for a way to understand what’s happening in the world,” Yasmin said. “Charlatans are plugging those knowledge gaps. They’re saying completely false things with a sense of authority.”

The true origins of QAnon are unknown, but theorists have suggested that Russian intelligence is behind the sprawl of QAnon rhetoric in America, which does track with the fact that #PizzaGate popped up around the 2016 election and PizzaGate 2.0 aka #SaveOurChildren has taken new form ahead of the 2020 election.

The biggest irony in this whole mess is that most of these concerned moms who legitimately fear that an intricate web of child trafficking is being covered up by the media and the government is that they believe Donald Trump is the only person capable of bringing these abusers to light — a man who has been accused by at least 18 women of various forms of sexual misconduct.

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