This is why you too are seeing more conspiracies online now

There are numerous conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Some people see a link with the rollout of 5G, don’t trust Bill Gates’ intentions or doubt whether the virus exists at all.

Together with a team, researcher Marc Tuters of the University of Amsterdam mapped out a number of these conspiracy theories. By measuring their distribution on Instagram, Telegram, TikTok and Youtube, they discovered a significant increase in the number of posted conspiracy messages during the corona crisis.

CCeit on 3 made the video below about it and figured out why those conspiracy theories are posted so much during corona

Tuters sees the number of conspiracies posted online increasing worldwide, especially at the moment the corona measures are becoming stricter. Such as about the rollout of 5G and the origin of the coronavirus. But also other themes, such as Qanon and the deep state, are passing by a lot.

Centuries old

A well-known phenomenon in times of crisis, it becomes apparent when we look back further. Conspiracy theories about radical events are given more chance. During the Spanish Influenza (1918) numerous conspiracies about the spread of the virus also took place. Then, according to conspiracy thinkers, the Germans were guilty. They would have spread the virus with submarines off the American coast.

Experts say that social unrest, uncertainty and distrust have always been a good breeding ground for conspiracy thinking. But in this day and age, influencers and youtubers also reach many people in a short period of time with conspiracy thinking. Like rapper Lange Frans, who in his podcast had a conversation with Janet Ossebaard. They received a lot of criticism because they fantasised about an attack on Prime Minister Rutte.

During corona, many young people go online to look for conspiracy theories, sees youth worker Bianca Boender. “The offline lives of young people are limited, so they can be found more online. That’s where they all come across conspiracies,” says Boender.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to talk to these young people, she says. They sometimes come up against each other with their own truth. This is her reason for setting up an online lecture on conspiracy thinking for some 100 youth workers in October.

Experts emphasize that it doesn’t have to be a problem if more people study conspiracy theories. “You can also see conspiracy thinkers as critical citizens with questions,” says cultural sociologist Stef Aupers of KU Leuven. They look for answers to those questions and then come across all sorts of sources.

But it becomes a problem when doubt about the truth passes into fundamentalist belief, he says. And all the more so when people start to act in accordance with it, violating laws, inciting violence or using violence themselves. And unfortunately there are these examples as well: from intimidating politicians in The Hague to a man who, inspired by a conspiracy theory, ran into a pizza joint.