The proliferation of pandemic conspiracy theories on social media is leading people to Holocaust denial, a report has warned.
Around one in five Brits believe the ‘Q-Anon’ theory that ‘elites’ in the media and politics are involved in child abuse, reveals the poll from anti-racism charity, Hope not Hate.
The prevalence of ‘vast’ conspiracy theories about the pandemic or elites such as these can then lend themselves into antisemitism and Shoah denial, found the report.
“Once one has internalised the existence of vast conspiracies, any historical fact is open to question, and over the past year we have witnessed dozens of individuals encountering Holocaust denial, often via (ostensibly) unrelated conspiracy theory Facebook groups, and appearing to accept it with little pushback,” it states.
Researchers found that Instagram had become a recruiting ground of choice for neo-Nazis, with young people especially at risk.
Nick Lowles, Hope not Hate chief executive, said: “Though we continue to warn about niche platforms like Telegram, a fertile recruitment ground for young neo-Nazis has been Instagram – its inadequate moderation and worrying algorithm recommendations are child protection issues that demand urgent action from the platform.”
The group has identified two far-right groups active in the UK – The British Hand and the National Partisan Movement – who have used Instagram to recruit members.
Three alleged members of The British Hand, who are all teenage boys, are facing trial on terrorism charges.
A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, responded: “We do not want hate on our platform and we removed a number of accounts belonging to The British Hand and National Partisan Movement before this report was published.”
Community Security Trust, a charity which monitors antisemitism, said the research highlighted the “conspiracy theories that have proliferated in recent years and that now fuel so much extremism.”
It added: “As we saw with the riot at the U.S Capitol in January in this country with the growing number of young people in this country drawn into violent neo-Nazism, online extremism regularly accompanies hateful behaviour offline.”
Its poll also found that 20 percent of people believe there is some truth that coronavirus is a bio-weapon spread by the Chinese state, while a fifth also accepted there was some truth it had been released as part of a ‘depopulation’ plan by the New World Order.
Meanwhile, when asked about mainstream politics, 34% of respondents said that they agreed that “the Labour Party has a problem with antisemitism”, compared to 22% who disagreed.
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