On the Globalization of the QAnon Conspiracy Theory Through Telegram

by   Mohamad Hoseini, et al.

QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that became popular and mainstream over the past few years. Worryingly, the QAnon conspiracy theory has implications in the real world, with supporters of the theory participating in real-world violent acts like the US capitol attack in 2021. At the same time, the QAnon theory started evolving into a global phenomenon by attracting followers across the globe and, in particular, in Europe. Therefore, it is imperative to understand how the QAnon theory became a worldwide phenomenon and how this dissemination has been happening in the online space. This paper performs a large-scale data analysis of QAnon through Telegram by collecting 4.5M messages posted in 161 QAnon groups/channels. Using Google's Perspective API, we analyze the toxicity of QAnon content across languages and over time. Also, using a BERT-based topic modeling approach, we analyze the QAnon discourse across multiple languages. Among other things, we find that the German language is prevalent in QAnon groups/channels on Telegram, even overshadowing English after 2020. Also, we find that content posted in German and Portuguese tends to be more toxic compared to English. Our topic modeling indicates that QAnon supporters discuss various topics of interest within far-right movements, including world politics, conspiracy theories, COVID-19, and the anti-vaccination movement. Taken all together, we perform the first multilingual study on QAnon through Telegram and paint a nuanced overview of the globalization of the QAnon theory.


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