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Far-Right Using COVID-19 Theories To Grow Reach, Study Shows

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FILE - People carry signs and flags as several hundred anti-mandate demonstrators rally outside the Capitol during a special legislative session considering bills targeting COVID-19 vaccine mandates, on Nov. 16, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla. New research indicates that far-right extremists and white supremacists are gaining new followers and new influence by co-opting conspiracy theories about COVID-19. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

(AP) — New research indicates far-right extremists and white supremacists are gaining followers and influence by co-opting conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

Analysts at the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue sifted through nearly half a million posts on Telegram, a loosely moderated social media platform popular with some on the far-right.

The analysts found conspiracy theories and racist claims about COVID-19, masks, vaccines and lockdowns quickly became the most popular posts and groups that focused on that content quickly gained followers.

The authors of the research warn far-right groups are trying to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to win new recruits and expand their reach. Telegram says it welcomes “the peaceful expression of ideas.”

 

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