(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.”