Re-shaping the narrative: How conspiracy theories change the news

A few days ago the Washington Post published a story which should have shocked us…but sadly, it didn’t.

Authors Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell wrote:

Forty-seven minutes after news broke of a high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the posters on the anonymous chat board 8chan had devised a plan to bend the public narrative to their own designs: “Start looking for [Jewish] numerology and crisis actors.”

The voices from this dark corner of the Internet quickly coalesced around a plan of attack: Use details gleaned from news reports and other sources to push false information about one of America’s deadliest school shootings.

Timberg and Harwell studied thousands of posts on alt-right conspiracy channels 8chan, 4chan, and Reddit, looking at how anonymous users correctly predicted that the Parkland mass murder would revive interest in gun control in the United States. Almost before the story had hit the mainstream news, users leapt in, distorting and re-shaping the narrative of the shooting to cast doubt upon the event…and to target its young victims in a vicious, relentless, co-ordinated campaign.

According to Timberg and Harwell,

Former YouTube engineer Guillaume Chaslot referred to coordinated campaigns across online platforms to spread a video as “4chan attacks” because such anonymous forums often served as staging grounds for these efforts.

Using methods which will be familiar to those who followed the conspiracy theorists’ aggressive attacks on the Sandy Hook community, Timberg and Harwell said,

[t]he Parkland story line took advantage of emerging details about the surviving students — and even how they looked or talked during interviews with television reporters — to portray them as “crisis actors” playing the roles of victims in a “false flag” attack, a hoax designed to mislead the public and build support for gun control.

Lasting scars

Just as the victims of the Hampstead SRA hoax have suffered long-term damage from those who’ve created a defamatory, abusive narrative about the children, parents, teachers, clergy, and others in the community, the victims of the Parkland shootings—those who died, the traumatised survivors, teachers, and families—must now cope with a virtual siege from an online community with a very ugly axe to grind.

Parkland student David Hogg has been targetted in particular, primarily due to his passionate articulation of the problem: “Blood is being spilled on the floors of American classrooms”, he says. “And that is not acceptable”.

From the start, the conspiranoids flagged him as a problem to be neutralised. Timberg and Harwell wrote:

‘Just wanted to say thanks for all your digging and research,’ one poster wrote on 8chan. ‘Extra thanks if you’re spreading info or memes about this kid. It’s already breaking through the normie-sphere. KEEP PUSHING!’

Troofers zeroed in on the fact that David’s father is a retired FBI agent; to the conspiranoids, this must mean that David Hogg was play-acting.

YouTuber “Bombard” posted a video the day of the mass murder, analysing the students’ body language and referring to David as a “psychopath”.

Timberg and Harwell stated:

Memes with Hogg’s face tagged as “Son of FBI agent” were spreading widely on Twitter by the next day. And on Feb. 18, users were cheering the surprising speed with which they were able to shape the story line. 

‘Man, I just gotta say, on our progress around these events is quite remarkable,’ one 8chan poster wrote that day. It’s ‘marvelous to see non centralized actors . . . produce so many counter points, so fast, with zero centrally planned coordination.’

The poster added, ‘At this point I think we managed to get into a 1.5 . . . to 2 :1 ratio of information warfare for OUR advantage, compared to the jews (sic).

In yet another parallel to the Hoaxtead narrative, when David Hogg went on television to state that he was not a crisis actor, the conspiranoids interpreted his protestations as clear evidence that he was.

This is war

Since the day of the murders in Parkland, the conspiracy narrative has seeped upward into the internet’s consciousness: from 8chan, 4chan, and Reddit, it has made its way onto the (slightly) more regulated platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Alt-right conspiracy trumpeter Alex Jones latched onto the false flag idea briefly, but now seems to have abandoned this in favour of sowing doubt about the murders; better stick to the softer sell and avoid potential lawsuits, it seems.

Even normal people, to whom conspiracy theories seem bizarre and foreign, have begun to become aware of the conspiranoid version of events. The majority of people tend to react with understandable shock and disgust, writing off the troofers as marginal nut-cases who will go away if they’re ignored.

Those of us who’ve seen this kind of thing before realise that that’s a dangerously short-sighted approach.

When YouTube responded to the growing conspiracy theory by banning videos and channels which claimed that David Hogg was less than genuine, the conspiranoids took it as evidence of a “cover-up” and pushed harder:

A poster on 8chan soon advanced a battle plan. “We Go to War. Gather any dirt we can find on the leaders and their parents … Disprove, Disrupt, Discredit, Disinfo, Discourage, Demotivate, Deny. Sabotage the movement [to implement gun control legislation]” the poster wrote. 

And that’s how it is: having grabbed hold of the narrative within minutes of the murders being announced, the conspiranoid propagandists do whatever they can to wrest it further from the truth, to shape and mould it into their own twisted version in which children who’ve lost friends and classmates, who have watched their classmates die, are somehow liars and fakers.

As HR commenter Justin Sanity remarked yesterday,

There are both direct and indirect relationships between conspiranoid propaganda and mass shooting incidents in America.

The indirect relationship runs something like this; conspiranoid propaganda winds up American paranoids, they buy more guns and support groups like the NRA that actively block gun control legislation. We used to call these paranoids “survivalists”, decades ago, and guess what? Our old ‘friend’ John Todd was very much involved in inciting their paranoia in the 1970’s & 1980’s:

As for the direct relationship…at least one of the paranoid lunatic assassins that have carried out fatal ambushes on police officers in the US & Canada was provably an Alex Jones fan. (I could say a lot more about this, but I’ll stick to what I can prove).

So…want to support the Florida kids and gun control in America? Help take down the conspiranoid channels, sites, webpages and blogs.

Amen, Justin.


50 thoughts on “Re-shaping the narrative: How conspiracy theories change the news

  1. The mistake here is to think those on 8Chan etc are just kids or conspiracy addicts spreading this dis-information for mischievous reasons. It’s too co-ordinated, clever and it works.
    There are good reasons to believe these terrible attacks upon innocent victims of mass gun shootings and other tragedies are being used by “foreign actors” to cause real dissension & divisions among Americans. The fact, for whatever bizarre reasons, president Trump has sometimes tweeted support either purposefully or through ignorance is significant. Personally I think he’s just a petty con artist who doesn’t pay his bills and yet..he was up at 5am this morning bitching about actor Alec Baldwin only hours after Vlad Putin & Russia announce they have new nuclear weapons that can top anything the West has.
    Or am I propagating even more conspiracy stuff?. What a nightmare the internet has become.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oy Vey News. Breaking :
    El Coyote revealed as MI5 (surely 6?) agent living as a Jewish woman in Winnipeg using a Mexican based mobile phone. Yet again the brilliance of Mossad is demonstrated as agents expertly convince the world they are not who you think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • &*&(% Angela Power Disney, you self-entitled selfish witch. We all are suffering our individual issues with this snow to have time to bloody deal with your plumbing problems. No, you do not have the right to demand instant gratification for your minor problems. Your two sons could get off their backsides to research and fix your problems, how dare you tell the people of your community to come running to your door when many have to deal with their own problems alone. There is a reason why you are hated, and it has nothing to do with paedophiles.

      Liked by 3 people

        • Fag Ash is pathetic. Thank goodness her mother has good neighbours, unlike her who doesn’t appear to be bothered to actually go and help.

          Liked by 3 people

      • Agreed, I would also like to make clear that her mother’s neighbours cleared her driveway & have kept it clear. Her neighbours on a regular basis, call in to see if she needs anything.

        Your 60 year old backside does not give you the right to vent about a lady who goes over & above helping your elderly mother, where are you when this happens! You think she gets paid for all her hours? Grow up before you do harm to your mother by alienating her neighbours & home help!

        Cop on that you have already called out a respected man who fixed your locks, then complaint about him on FB! Who would want to do work in your house because of the that. You will have to ring a plumber from another town and by God, you will see then what tradesmen do charge!

        You have really blotted your copybook this time. Take the blame, do not attack a daughter for defending her mother against your lies & jealousy by replying that she had , “hi hacked”,[sic], your video. Apologise properly or do not apologise at all!

        Realise also, that everyone does not hate you, they actually laugh heartily at you when they even bother about you. You are not that important that you are in anyone’s thoughts at all.

        Grow up!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks, Storm Emma. I doubt that Angela will grow up at this stage of the game—she’s a bit long in tooth for that. We’ve heard from many of her neighbours over the past three years, and the conclusion is always the same: steer clear and laugh at her from a distance. I think she’s finally beginning to reap what she sows.

          Liked by 2 people

          • The fact that she constantly uses the ‘blow-in’ card is also utter nonsense. There are many people that are from different places in all towns across Ireland including myself & my extended family. We treat people with respect, respect their privacy and vice versa. We are all part of a community, we live day by day with our neighbours, help out when needed but do not go blowing our own trumpet in videos, expecting applause.

            Liked by 2 people

            • I’m willing to bet you and your neighbours don’t make disgusting videos slagging off people you don’t know and claiming to be “whistle-blowers”, either.

              Liked by 2 people

  3. I see Angie’s been out to get her fags, isn’t there some one in her area she could check up on to see if they’re ok?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m so pleased that the press are now focusing on this issue. We’ve been watching it for a few years now and the troofers, who indulge in the kind of misinformation that hurts people, have been getting away with it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it is very relevant: it seems that the conspiranoids are waiting to pounce on any news story which furthers their agenda, and through a co-ordinated campaign of likes, shares, and re-posting, make it seem as though their perspective is the legitimate one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting video and comments below it:

    Angela Power Disney comments:

    ‘I’ve worked on this case as a citizen journalist and survivor since 2015. I believe it absolutely is not a hoax tho I suspect the Mother was also involved in the cult and was by her childrens admission also a follower of Cheng Hai or the Supreme Master as the children were taught to call her. You may have been aware in the past of an American YouTuber called Rupert Q with a show called Hi it’s Rupert and who also had a show on American Freedom Radio? He came over to investigate the case and within 2 weeks or so of landing in London he got arrested after 5 of the alleged paedophiles including Ricky Dearman sued him for harassment. Shockingly he was kept as a kind of political prisoner with his passport confiscated for a year and then sentenced to 9 months in a tough UK prison based mostly on a Facebook post and a radio interview with myself.
    Another whistleblower activist on the case 73 year old Sabine McNeill a highly respected children’s rights activist who has spoken at the European Union HQ has been arrested 7 times, imprisoned three times and looking at a likely sentence on January 8th. Other campaigners were sectioned forcibly into mental health institutions accused of being delusional for believing the children and the list goes on including severe targetting of myself.
    You can see videos in a playlist on my channel.entitled HAMPSTEAD COVER UP.
    I have been as have we all mercilessly trolled with DISRUPT DISCREDIT DESTROY tactics and character assassination online.
    Medical evidence supported the children’s claims. The Father had been arrested multiple times for domestic violence. Not ONE of the alleged abusers was arrested or investigated despite both children describing intimate details of piercings, tattoos, scars and blemishes and NOT ONE had computers or tech examined.
    Child porn was found on websites run by Ricky Dearman as well as the connection you mentioned to dodgy Haitian charities connected to the Clintons.
    This is England’s biggest cover up since Jimmy Savile for decades ….’

    Next time Angela says she’s doesn’t tell lies would someone remind her of the above where it says ‘sentenced to 9 months in a tough UK prison based mostly on a Facebook post and a radio interview with myself.’

    He wasn’t sentenced based on an interview with her. She knows this.

    She also says ‘The Father had been arrested multiple times for domestic violence.

    Not true and she’s spreading lies for the sake of it.

    She says ‘Child porn was found on websites run by Ricky Dearman’.

    Simply bollocks.

    I don’t call names or troll people. I don’t comment on You Tube since there’s so many stupid people and nutjobs on there. I’m not interested in such things and in fact have a bit of a problem with some of the comments on that You Tube video that argue for a hoax (to make comments about people’s family members isn’t right in my book) but I will point it out here when I see lies being told.

    Stop it Angela. You are more than letting yourself down.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Sly old Debs has found a way to promote the Hampstead case on her channel (complete with the names and images of the children) without actually uploading anything or breaking the law. Sooo, she’s really learnt her lesson, then >:D

    Liked by 1 person

  7. MOM’S DEMAND ACTION for gun regulation meeting sees attendance increase ten-fold! Typically 100 people turn out, this time over 1,000. It’s a social tidal wave, folks! (And positive coverage from Fox News of all the wretched propagandists, ooops I mean journalists)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. IMO that Washington Post story counts as garbage journalism. As someone who has spent quite a bit of time browsing various imageboards over the years, I find the notion that a respectable journalist would pick up individual anonymous 4chan posts and create a story out of them ridiculous.

    The only thing crap like this is achieving is giving publicity to the /pol/ narratives. That and probably helping those anons get their rocks off, having their shitposts reported in the mainstream media.


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