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QAnon: a Type of Information Terrorism

Why I think QAnon can be considered a type of information terrorism.

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Edited: 2020-10-13 12:38

For a while I have followed Q-communities online and witnessed the type of damaging material they share first-hand. Mostly they share their ideas among themselves, but sometimes they will also aggressively attempt to convince others that their ideas are real, including their own family and friends — and that is when it can have personal costs.

I have personally witnessed friends sink into this black hole of conspiracy-hell, and they have almost become unreachable with facts and reason. I even deleted, at least a couple, of Facebook friends for aggressively promoting this stuff — and this was people I knew from real life!

I have often witnessed people argue that it is hard to disprove a conspiracy theory, but that is actually not the case with much of the stuff we see shared online. I will argue that most of these conspiracy theories are already disproven, and if not, will either be disproven or proven relatively quickly.

Information terrorism and QAnon

I think it is time we call it out for what it is: information terrorism!

It does not really matter how it is spreading, or who is behind it. It is not just QAnon supporters — they just happen to be some of the most aggressive — regardless of the source, this is a form of information terrorism because it effects the way people think and process information. Some of these theories are constructed on what amounts to logical fallacies that, when applied, will enable otherwise healthy intelligent and rational people to "re-program" themselves into a sort of conspiratorial thinking process; a type of thought process that derails rationality and scientific thinking; in a way, otherwise mentally healthy people make themselves go "mentally ill" — and it is entirely preventable.

If you have had friends or family members who support this stuff, then you will understand what I mean by "information terrorism". It effects everyone negatively, without adding anything positive.

Allowing these things to spread unchallenged online comes at a very high personal cost for everyone involved. Not only will it create a very unhealthy mental state for those who start believing the conspiracy theories, it may also come at a high social cost — both for themselves and their friends and family. Ultimately, people might decide to not have anything to do with them anymore.

People that believe in disproven conspiracy theories are looked down on, and in worst cases they might be excluded from their social circles. For example, I have personally deleted a couple of Facebook friends, and this was people that I knew from real life. Generally, I try not to delete close friends or family members; but my heart just sinks when I witness some of the things they share.

The damage of information terrorism

We need to recognize that disinformation and lies can be extremely harmful and damaging, and everyone is a victim, including those who create and spread the material.

As QAnon seem to favor republicans and Donald Trump, republicans should realize that while this might help Trump win re-election, it also comes at a very high cost for the entire world. People are loosing friends and family members over this nonsense. I live in Denmark, and I have also been negatively effected by it, both because of the time I lost disproving and arguing with people, and because of the division it has caused.

While the social reasons should be enough to purge this material from social media, there is also a relatively small risk that it might, in worst case, lead to real acts of terrorism, physical violence and death.

This is also my main reason for labeling QAnon as information terrorists; they damage people's mental health, and they mess up our beliefs about the world — something that can come at a great social and personal cost in terms of division and ruined relationships.

Comments

  1. How to determine if an article is fake news. It is quite easy.
  2. These are just some of thoughts on fake news, and how tech companies can deal with it, without removing the content and breaking free speech.

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