Protests from conspiracy theory-groups more likely to get out of hand: Utrecht researchers
Protests called for on chat groups in which many conspiracy theories are shared, relatively often get out of hand, according to a study by the Utrecht Data School into tens of thousands of messages in 17 chat groups on Telegram and protests in the Netherlands last year, NOS reports.
Protests announced in Telegram groups with QAnon sympathizers and by Farmers Defense Force in particular more often ended in clashes with the police. "Conspiracy theories seem to lead to escalations on the street. The further away from reality, the more radical," researcher Jeroen Bakker said. He stressed that the escalation are not automatically caused by the conversations in Telegram, and that other things like police action also play a role.
The protests announced in Telegram groups account for 12 of the total 29 demonstrations that got out of hand, the researchers said. These were often banned demonstrations with dozens to thousands of participants. Many of them happened in The Hague.
Half of all demonstrations that followed calls on Telegram groups ended in arrests. This includes a demonstration on the Malieveld in The Hague on June 21, during which about 400 people were arrested. And a protest at the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on October 8 during which dozens of people were arrested.
The researchers found that the QAnon slogan WWG1WGA, which stands for "where we go one, we go all", is regularly shared in the investigated chat groups, both by anti-lockdown activists and farmer groups. "The influence of QAnon reaches far and has concrete consequences for the manner of demonstrating," the researchers said in their report. "QAnon's role should not be underestimated."
QAnon is a conspiracy movement that emerged in the United States and revolves around the belief that Donald Trump was chosen to defeat a satanic pedophile shadow government.