The conspirators apply their old recipes to the death of Elizabeth II

Thus, at a time when the United Kingdom is mourning its sovereign, who died at the age of 96, on the internet false rumors, manipulated photos and other poisoning attributing her death to vaccines against Covid-19 or Hillary Clinton, are prospering. Far from being original, these themes had already emerged during the invasion of Ukraine by Russia or the death of American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Usual tactics

The misinformation began with the first concerns about the Queen’s health. Twitter accounts impersonating reputable outlets like the BBC and prematurely announcing his death. Then, on September 8, Buckingham Palace officially announced the death of Elizabeth II.

“People all over the world have been informed of and affected by the Queen’s passing, giving the spreaders of misinformation an endless reservoir of misleading stories,” said Dan Evon of the News Literacy Project. .

Among them: a video from a month ago of people dancing outside Buckingham Palace was transformed to make it look like Irish people were dancing for joy at the news of the Queen’s death; a fake post by former United States President Donald Trump claiming he was knighted by the monarch; or a fake image of Meghan Markle, wife of Prince Harry, wearing a “The Queen is dead” t-shirt. »

Some have blamed the death of Elizabeth II on the Covid vaccine, as they had done before for the deaths of American actors Betty White and Bob Saget.

Others held Hillary Clinton responsible, alleging that the sovereign had in her possession compromising files on the former candidate for the White House. This is an old conspiracy theory that the Clintons would have their political opponents assassinated.

An angle that lends itself to its own beliefs

When something important happens, an activist always tries to find an angle that lends itself to their own beliefs, according to Mike Caulfield, a disinformation specialist at the Center for an Informed Public (CIP) at the University of Washington. For example, “anti-vaccine activists are trying to see if there’s a way to blame the death of a public figure on vaccination.”

Those who buy into the ideas of the QAnon nebula have associated the Queen’s death with their beliefs as to why there is a global Satanist and pedophile conspiracy. “The royal family, given the well-known close movement relationship between Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein, has always given QAnon followers a grain of salt,” said CIP member Rachel Moran. A popular video among QAnon supporters, which has gone viral on the TikTok social network, showing a naked boy escaping from Buckingham Palace, they say, turned out to be an old promotional clip from a TV show.

Don’t fall into the trap

The week following the death of Elizabeth II, the company Zignal Labs reported 76,000 mentions of the queen associated with Jeffrey Epstein and his accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell (both convicted of sex trafficking) on ​​social networks, websites , on radio, television and in the press. Stories linking Elizabeth II to pedophilia, Hillary Clinton and vaccines were themselves cited 42,000, 8,000 and 7,000 times respectively.

The continuous information on the sovereign and her global influence partly explains the popularity of conspiracy theories around her death, notes Karen Douglas, professor of social psychology at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. “Accepting ordinary explanations for such a significant event may be less charged or less appealing.”

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