Conspiracy Fear Mongering Is A Very Profitable, And Dangerous Industry

Everyone has seen some sort of conspiracy story on their news feed. Whether it comes from the far-left or far-right, these stories abound – especially if you’re subscribed to any sort of political Facebook page or group. Memes telling people to “wake up” or “expand your consciousness” are often combined with medical or rehashed news stories full of exaggerations – or political propaganda disguised as information for activists.

A great example of this is would be the wildly popular group Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash which I belonged to before it descended into spam links from Eastern European websites that were paying off the group’s founder.

Then there are the cliché, generic motivational images shared around the Internet which inevitably get picked up by medical con artist David Avocado Wolfe, who then adds his name to them as if he was the creator. That has become so pervasive that one of my managers at work shared out a daily motivation message, complete with an image stamped with the Wolfe Facebook URL on it.

People ask what the harm is in sharing these images or exaggerated stories. So what if that supposedly liberal website has a horrible record with Politifact? What’s the big deal if someone passes on memes from pages like David Avocado Wolfe or Free Thought Project? It doesn’t really hurt anything, right?

Whether it is right-wing tabloid “journalism” spreading rumors about Hillary Clinton’s health, or “liberal” bloggers click-baiting rumors about Melania Trump’s past, both count on ill-informed and gullible people to spread their misinformation.

There is a potential for great harm when people who believe anything they see on the Internet are faced with making political or medical decisions. A ton of effort has been put into tricking voters who won’t vote for Republicans into thinking that both parties are the same. This is especially true with organizations that appear to be on the far left pushing the same anti-Hillary Clinton talking points as the Trump campaign is.

Then you also have far-right opportunists like Alex Jones, or Allen West and his clickbait processors like Matt Palumbo who rile up low-information conservatives and Neo-Nazis with Tweets such as the following. Yes, I was actually the target of a series of Tweets from a Canadian white nationalist after replying to one of these stories from Allen West.

It’s not surprising when people who believe these hyped headlines and false conspiracy stories lose their grasp on reality, and then carry out attacks on minorities – or make threats towards the president. The creators of this sort of content can hide behind the 1st Amendment, even though they’re aware of the risks involved with riling up unhinged individuals.

The charlatans and grifters who engage in this sort of tabloid politics are enriching themselves, while dumbing down our society, and putting others in danger. Peddling conspiracy nonsense is very profitable, and those who do it don’t seem to care who it hurts.



About Manny Schewitz 462 Articles
Manny Schewitz is a progressive and registered Democrat currently living in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is a co-founder of Modern Liberals and an unapologetic liberal who supports gun regulations, abortion rights, and Bernie Sanders. Manny is on Facebook, Instagram and you can follow him on Twitter as well.
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