New QAnon / Pizzagate / Adrenochrome hit piece from wired.com -
The Dark Virality of a Hollywood Blood-Harvesting Conspiracy
BRIAN FRIEDBERG - 7.31.2020
A centuries-old anti-Semitic myth is spreading freely on far-right corners of social media—suggesting a new digital Dark Age has arrived.
THE DARK AGES were rife with plague, fanaticism, and accusations that Jews secretly fed off the blood of children. In 2020, we too are beset with plague, rampant medical misinformation, and a persistent rumor that “global elites” torture children to harvest the chemical adrenochrome from their blood, which they then inject in order to stay healthy and young.
A favorite topic of interconnected QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy communities, so-called “adrenochrome harvesting” long predates these groups. It has, however, resurrected during the Covid-19 pandemic. Google Trends shows significant spikes in searches for adrenochrome in March and June of 2020. It’s prevalent on TikTok, Youtube, Reddit, and Instagram. On Friday, July 31, conspiracy theorists plan to hold the first “Child Lives Matter” protest in Hollywood to “expose” child trafficking, advertising the event with references to #adrenochrome.
The adrenochrome harvesting conspiracy theory is a potent example of “hidden virality” and the ways in which unpopular culture animate social media platforms outside of the mainstream view. Named by researchers Britt Parris and Joan Donovan, hidden virality describes dominant content in specific pockets of the internet that are largely unseen by journalists and mass audiences, making them difficult for social media companies to identify and act upon. The impact of hidden virality can’t be stopped by retroactively banning a few thousand Twitter accounts; it is an iterative, memetic phenomenon that outpaces terms of service. Even with early intervention by Reddit and recent movements by Twitter, Facebook and TikTok to crack down on QAnon, adrenochrome harvesting remains a mainstream conversation for some online communities.
Toxic social attitudes spread virally alongside hoaxes and disinformation. Adrenochrome harvesting isn’t outwardly blamed on Jews, but on “satanic” and “globalist” elites—dog whistle terms for the far right. The modern adrenochrome obsession is a permutation of blood libel, an anti-Semitic myth that pervaded Europe throughout the middle ages, and a mutated strain of medical misinformation.