Anecdotal examples bolster what the data shows. Internet communities that hadn’t previously done so are now associating with far-right conspiracies like QAnon, impending mass arrests of elites for running pedophile rings, and liberal megadonor George Soros’s supposed plots. Across Instagram, pseudoscience wellness influencers, lifestyle influencers, anti-vaxxers, at least one contributor to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop site, and other seemingly unrelated groups have all pivoted to spreading versions of these conspiracies that emerged on the far right.
Data compiled from social networking sites and Google and Wikipedia search trends show a broader spike in interest around QAnon among Americans after businesses started to close and various lockdowns started in mid-March in anticipation of further viral spread. Online activity around QAnon and related topics rapidly climbed to all-time highs. Interest in the search terms has yet to return to pre-COVID levels.