The Other Pandemic: How QAnon Contaminated the World by James Ball
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Overview: Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist James Ball takes us into the depths of the internet to trace the origins and rapid ascent of QAnon, the movement that mutated from a niche online conspiracy theory into the world’s first digital pandemic.
Imagine a deadly pathogen that, once created, could infect any person in any part of the globe within seconds. No need to wait for travellers, trains, or air traffic to spread it, all you need is an internet connection. In this gripping investigation, Pulitzer Prize winner James Ball decodes the cryptic language of the online right and with a surgeon’s precision tracks the spread of QAnon, the world’s first digital pandemic.
QAnon began as an internet community dedicated to supporting President Trump and intent on outing a global cabal of human traffickers. A short, cryptic message posted by an anonymous user to a niche internet forum in 2017 was the spark that ignited a global movement. What started as a macabre game of virtual make-believe quickly spiralled into the spread of virulently hateful, dangerous messaging – which turned into tragic, violent actions.
Incoherent, chaotic, free from agendas: QAnon is a one-size-fits all cult conspiracy. From a standoff at the Hoover Dam, to the storming of the U.S. Capitol on 6 January 2021, to protesting COVID-19 lockdowns, this digital pandemic has spread globally and shows no signs of stopping. In The Other Pandemic Ball takes us into the niche pathways through which these digital pathogens spread, mutate and infect people all across the globe – but he also argues that the prognosis doesn’t have to be dire. He shows us that it is possible to treat and cure this virus in order to build up our digital immune systems, and be better prepared to survive the next wave.