Hoaxlines Russian State Controlled and Proxy Media Disinformation Report

Disinformation narratives in Russian state-controlled and proxy media currently center on the Russian election. The ruling party appears to be preemptively undermining the election results. TV Zvezda, Tass, and Tsargrad have been the primary outlets for sowing doubt. The main narratives were that multiple countries have cyberattacked their voting system, that the US interfered in the election via Apple and Google, and a vague conspiracy-minded tone that amounts to “there are games afoot.” 

‘Deprogramming’ QAnon followers ignores free will and why they adopted the beliefs in the first place

Recent calls to deprogram QAnon conspiracy followers are steeped in discredited notions about brainwashing. As popularly imagined, brainwashing is a coercive procedure that programs new long-term personality changes. Deprogramming, also coercive, is thought to undo brainwashing.

As a professor of religious studies who has written and taught about alternative religious movements, I believe such deprogramming conversations do little to help us understand why people adopt QAnon beliefs. A deprogramming discourse fails to understand religious recruitment and conversion and excuses those spreading QAnon beliefs from accountability.