#minorsextrafficking | Video spreading QAnon-like conspiracy theory about satanic sex-trafficking ring goes viral


A video that apparently discusses Satanic sex trafficking ring has gone viral on social media platforms; it also promotes several tropes related to the conspiracy theory QAnon, Rolling Stone reported. The publication did not mention the name of the 90-minute video — shot as a documentary — but claimed that it discusses inaccurate but explicit claims about child abuse, child trafficking, murder, and suicide. The video also reportedly boosts Islamophobia.

According to reports, the documentary was posted on YouTube in March, and was soon reshared on a number of right-wing and anti-trafficking Facebook pages. It has been said that the documentary is the creation of a Polish filmmaker, and which apparently doesn’t portray reality, but a performance given by some people. It includes interviews of individuals with blurred faces and distorted voices.

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The video also features a pregnant woman wanting to sell her unborn baby to child traffickers while a “mediator” openly speaks about the logistics of selling kids and babies for sex and organ farming. Writing about the video, far-right extremism researcher Marc-Andre Argentino stated: “This video as well as others like it, target a specific audience with their content, as well as those who are inclined to react to ‘outrage porn’ (media or narrative that is designed to use outrage to provoke strong emotional reactions for the purpose of expanding audiences).”

Besides, the documentary propagates the false claims shared by many in far-right Christian circles that “child brothels for pedophiles are mainly run by Muslims, [whose] religion and culture does not prohibit them from having sex with children.” The video also focuses on how abortion is a sin with the director, who is a Catholic, telling a Polish publication, “I am Catholic and I listen to what God says. If it was about my child, I would not allow abortion under any circumstances.”

Though the video does not directly promote the conspiracy theory made famous by the QAnon movement, it hints at Satanism and implies the existence of Satanic pedophile rings, which sounds quite similar to the narratives advocated by supporters of QAnon.

“To me, there is no doubt that the devil is behind all child abuse. And this is not my overinterpretation. The trafficker himself talks about pentagrams, about how people involved in this practice communicate with each other,” the director of the documentary told the Polish publication about the video.

Reports said apart from YouTube, the clips of the documentary have gone viral on TikTok too. Both the social media platforms are reportedly trying to stop further spread of the video. A spokesperson for TikTok told Rolling Stone that the video-sharing site is planning to block the hashtag of the film’s title as it violated the company’s misinformation policy. “Our community values authentic content, which is why we remove disinformation as it is identified and redirect related searches and hashtags to our Community Guidelines,” the spokesperson added.

Casey Fiesler, an assistant professor in information science at the University of Colorado and specializing in social media ethics, explained why it is hard to halt the spread of viral misinformation. Fiesler said, “Misinformation and more subtle hate speech are some of the more challenging things for platforms to moderate right now in part because creating consistent guidelines around what constitutes misinformation is really challenging.”

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