American conspiracy theories are spreading through England like a virus: report

American conspiracy theories are spreading through England like a virus: report
A QAnon supporter, wearing a red shirt, at a pro-Trump event in New Hampshire in August 2019, Marc Nozell

Thanks to social media, conspiracy theories know no geo-political boundaries. Case in point: a new report from the campaign group HOPE not hate determined that, just like in the United States, far right views, anti-immigrant and anti-vax sentiments are spreading across the United Kingdom at an alarming rate.

Data from its annual report "State of HATE 2022," shared exclusively with VICE World News, shows that 63 percent of people believe the risk of young people being radicalized by political extremists is greater than it was 10 years ago. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents believe that social media companies should do more to limit the flow of extremist content.

The group surveyed 1,500 adults in the U.K. in January in order to collect data on far-right views.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred belief in conspiracy theories. The survey found that eight percent of people believe it is definitely true that “elites in Hollywood, government, the media, and other powerful positions” are secretly engaging in large scale child trafficking and abuse, while a further 28 percent think it is probably true. That, of course, is the basis of the false QAnon conspiracy theory that has attracted so many adherents in the United States.

Many of the conspiracy theories are disseminated through Telegram, which provides a platform for many far-right conspiracy theorists who have been kicked off of mainstream social media platforms.

Nick Lowles, CEO of HOPE not hate said: “After years in the political wilderness, the crises we’ve collectively faced over the past two years have emboldened cynical far-right activists to exploit our fears and uncertainties and return to traditional methods of campaigning.

“We are particularly worried about the growing numbers of young people being attracted to far-right politics and dangerous conspiracy theories,” he said. “This trend has been happening for several years, but it has been accelerated by COVID conspiracies and the increasingly aggressive anti-lockdown movement.”

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