Summary List PlacementWhile model and entrepreneur Chrissy Teigen mourned the loss of her pregnancy on Thursday morning, her social-media posts announcing the loss were met with abuse and harassment from QAnon theorists.
Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory falsely allege that Teigen is a member of an imagined deep-state cabal of elite figures who control the US. Teigen has become a constant target for QAnon believers who targeted Wednesday’s posts by alluding to unfounded allegations of various wrongdoings.
Insider has identified a series of such messages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, despite each platform’s stated efforts to curb the spread of QAnon and its misinformation.
The abuse was at its worst on Instagram, where users commenting about the conspiracy theory gained thousands of likes. One comment racked up over 1,000 likes, referencing an aspect of the false QAnon conspiracy theory. On Twitter, users had similar rhetoric.
Several Facebook users with profiles visible to the public shared the news on their personal pages, accusing Teigen of being a pedophile. Many of the Facebook users espousing the baseless claim have used the #SaveOurChildren or #SaveTheChildren hashtags, which are part of a QAnon rebrand focused on ending human trafficking.
A representative for Twitter told Insider in a statement the platform “will take strong enforcement action” against users involved with coordinated harmful activity, following the framework it uses to address QAnon communication.
A Facebook spokesperson representing Instagram said in a statement that the app was working to “quickly remove comments and accounts that break our rules,” but as of Thursday evening, many of the comments remained on Teigen’s post.
“We are heartbroken for Chrissy, John and their family,” the Instagram statement said.
Conspiracy theorists have accused their enemies of pedophilia and eating children since the 12th century, when anti-Semitic conspiracy theories falsely claiming that Jews killed Christian children and consumed their blood spread throughout the world.
Teigen has become a target of QAnon conspiracy theorists
Teigen is one of many celebrities falsely accused by QAnon believers of being involved with the sex trafficking of children. Oprah and Hilary Duff have also been met with similar allegations.
QAnon devotees believe, with no actual evidence, that Teigen has ties to Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein.
Still, the QAnon community has continued to defame and harass her online, using photos she’s shared of her children to baselessly allege wrongdoing. This misinformation about Teigen includes the unfounded claims that she eats children, is a pedophile, and has ties to the nonexistent Pizzagate child-trafficking ring.
Teigen said she deleted 60,000 tweets in July because she was “worried for” her family as the harassment mounted. QAnon believers interpreted Teigen’s tweet-deletion, a last-ditch effort to curb her abuse, as a sign that she was up to something.
I actually deleted 60,000 tweets because I cannot fucking STAND you idiots anymore and I’m worried for my family. Finding me talking about toddlers and tiaras in 2013 and thinking you’re some sort of fucking operative. https://t.co/isuEEW56fp — chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) July 14, 2020
In tweets, Teigen has said that the abuse on Twitter has taken a toll on her psychologically. On July 14, Teigen said that if Twitter didn’t “do something” about the harassment, she’d leave the platform.
If twitter doesn't do something about this *actually scary* harassment, I am gonna have to go. https://t.co/OsR9SPiWA8 — chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) July 14, 2020
QAnon beliefs continue to spread rapidly on social media, despite attempts to combat the theory
While QAnon followers often use the message board 8kun, where the anonymous “Q” figure leaves what are purported to be clues about his mission to take down the elite cabal of human traffickers, engagement related to the conspiracy theory has thrived on regular social-media platforms.
As misinformation threatens to impact the November presidential election, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Facebook-owned Instagram, have announced efforts to curb the spread of QAnon.
In July, Twitter said it removed 7,000 accounts associated with QAnon and would consider the conspiracy theory movement as a coordinated effort that can lead to “offline harm.” Facebook followed suit in August, removing thousands of groups and accounts related to QAnon on Facebook and Instagram.
On Wednesday, Facebook announced it would escalate its anti-QAnon measures, in part by banning QAnon-promoting advertisements. The platform also said it was analyzing how QAnon has taken over the #SaveTheChildren hashtag as a recruitment and organization tool.
But the immediate spread of a baseless conspiracy theory in the wake of Teigen’s loss shows platforms still have a long way to go.
Researchers examining QAnon and its community have placed some blame on Facebook’s algorithm for leading susceptible users down a rabbit hole of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University who researches disinformation and digital ethics, wrote in a recent Wired article that certain people may be predisposed to become enamored with a conspiracy theory like QAnon. Platforms like Facebook, Phillips argued, take advantage of those frameworks to hook users.
“We’re in this mess because of the network systems that made QAnon possible, profitable, and, at present, untouchable,” Phillips said, the “mess” being the misinformation crisis as more Americans are drawn to bogus ideas promulgated by QAnon and other bad actors online.
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