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Title: Rise of QAnon: A mental model of good and evil stews in an echochamber
The QAnon conspiracy posits that Satan-worshiping Democrats operate a covert child sex-trafficking operation, which Donald Trump is destined to expose and annihilate. Emblematic of the ease with which political misconceptions can spread through social media, QAnon originated in late 2017 and rapidly grew to shape the political beliefs of millions. To illuminate the process by which a conspiracy theory spreads, we report two computational studies examining the social network structure and semantic content of tweets produced by users central to the early QAnon network on Twitter. Using data mined in the summer of 2018, we examined over 800,000 tweets about QAnon made by about 100,000 users. The majority of users disseminated rather than produced information, serving to create an online echochamber. Users appeared to hold a simplistic mental model in which political events are viewed as a struggle between antithetical forces—both observed and unobserved—of Good and Evil.
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Fitch, T.; Lamm, C.; Leder, H.; Teßmar-Raible, K.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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