Study: China, Russia played role in amplifying QAnon conspiracy


Nearly 20 percent of all Facebook posts between January 2020 and February 2021 related to QAnon originated outside the U.S., with China and Russia playing large roles in spreading the conspiracy theory.

Data unveiled by the New York-based Soufan Center on Monday indicated that the number of QAnon-related posts originating from foreign countries remained around 19 percent for most of 2020 but spiked above that level several times.

Those spikes from accounts posting from outside of the U.S. correlated with real-world events in the U.S., according to the study, including “the domestic outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wayfair Conspiracy, and the Presidential Election.”

“Throughout 2020, the consistent foreign amplification of QAnon narratives online illustrates that externally driven disinformation efforts have contributed to the efficient spread of conspiracy theories. Indeed, the level of foreign influence during January and February 2021 continues this trend — at an average of almost 20% of all posts analyzed,” read the report.

Among the foreign countries where QAnon posts originated, Russia accounted for 44 percent throughout 2020, while China has been the source of more than half of the foreign QAnon posts so far in 2021.

The Hill has reached out for Facebook for comment on the study.

Facebook several times throughout 2020 removed large numbers of accounts associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory but has faced criticism from the media and activists over the level of disinformation allowed on the platform.

The company has pointed to QAnon accounts shifting their messaging and working to evade bans as a reason the content persists on the platform.

“We expect renewed attempts to evade our detection, both in behavior and content shared on our platform, so we will continue to study the impact of our efforts and be ready to update our policy and enforcement as necessary,” the company said in October.

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