The teaser video for Q: Into the Storm, an upcoming documentary collection from HBO in regards to the QAnon conspiracy motion has a variety of deplatforming specialists involved; it seems to be extra like a preview for a spy thriller than a cautious examination of the umbrella group of conspiracy theories.
The breathless tone may be efficient at constructing hype, however it has many disinformation specialists involved. Ben Collins, one of many main journalists overlaying on-line radicalization, tweeted that the trailer was “being marketed in a method that would recruit extra folks.” Promoted by HBO as a collection that “charts a labyrinthine journey to unmask the mastermind behind QAnon,” critics identified that the trailer felt lots like “a recruitment video for Q.”
disinfo neighborhood: *soberly* how will we steadiness protection and inadvertent amplification of QAnon? How will we carry folks again to actuality in a wise, empathetic method? HBO: *BRAAAAM (inception sounds)* watch our $30m documentary on how QAnon is HARDCORE and FUCKING CRAZY!!! https://t.co/HXfoDPPzjr— Emerson T. Brooking (@etbrooking) February 26, 2021
Joan Donovan, analysis director on the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard, advised The Verge that, by portraying Q as edgy and thrilling, the trailer risked attracting much more folks to the trigger.
“The most regarding side to me is that the reuse of footage discovered on-line pieced collectively in 6 hours of conspiracist content material can be validation for the modern motion and drive extra content material/curiosity,” Donovan mentioned in a message to The Verge. “It’s not like we’re 5 years from the riot. Q influencers will use the very fact of their participation within the documentary to sap extra folks for donations and construct a extra loyal viewers at a time when many are struggling to comprise this anti-Semitic and racist networked conspiracy.”
It’s onerous to say how a lot of these considerations will carry over to the documentary itself. The trailer is lower than a minute lengthy, and the docuseries was the results of a three-year international investigation, in accordance with HBO. So it’s doable the collection strikes the fitting tone in the way it presents QAnon and its origins, in addition to its future. The press launch asserting the collection says it should “look at the affect of QAnon on American tradition and query the implications of unfettered free speech permeating the darkest corners of the Internet.”
Donovan mentioned she hoped the trailer was a hoax, and that the precise movie will present folks talking about how believing in QAnon ruined their relationships with their households and buddies, however she wasn’t optimistic. “Somehow I doubt that would be the case,” she mentioned.
QAnon started on 4chan in 2017, when an nameless individual posting as “Q Clearance Patriot” mentioned that they had entry to categorised info displaying then-President Donald Trump was combating a world cabal of pedophiles, whose ranks included celebrities and Democratic politicians. QAnon’s followers additionally strongly ascribed to the view —falsely pushed by Trump— that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and lots of Q proponents have been linked to the January sixth assault on the US Capitol.
Journalists have struggled with learn how to finest cowl QAnon; reporting on it with out being adequately on top of things, information retailers ran the chance of amplifying and legitimizing a number of the group’s extra harmful views. At the identical time, ignoring QAnon’s followers or dismissing them as fringe may permit it to metastasize. One of HBO’s promotions for Q: Into the Storm promised that the collection will “pull again the curtain” on the group, however with out the fitting context, may additional muddy the general public’s understanding of QAnon and its attain.
During its heyday, there have been 1000’s of Q-related Facebook teams and Q-related accounts on Twitter and Reddit. Most platforms have banned, or tried to ban, Q-related content material and hashtags, however with combined success. “QAnon is dependent upon centuries-old anti-Jewish tropes and anti-Black narratives in regards to the fashionable civil rights motion,” Donovan says. “But it’s not that sophisticated.”
HBO declined to remark.