Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out
Conspiracy theories used to be seen as bizarre expressions of harmless eccentrics. Not any more. Gone are the days of outlandish theories about Roswell’s UFOs, the “hoax” moon landings or grassy knolls. Instead, today’s iterations have morphed into political weapons. Turbocharged by social media, they spread with astonishing speed, using death threats as currency. Together with their first cousins, fake news, they are challenging society’s trust in facts. Their growing reach and scale is astonishing. The trend began on obscure online forums such as the alt-right playground 4chan. Now the conspiracy theorist-in-chief sits in the White House. Amid this explosive growth, one aspect has been underappreciated: the human cost. The Guardian talked to five people who can speak from bitter personal experience. Valentine’s Day 2018 was Marcel Fontaine’s day off. By the time they roused themselves, the deadliest high school shooting in US history was already over. Fontaine was horrified.
• Fake News & Fact Checking
• Dangerous, Influential Manipulators