How did QAnon conspiracies spread so fast in 2020?

The increasingly visible and vocal followers of QAnon promote a bewildering blend of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, worrying everyone from Facebook to the FBI.

Once on the fringes of the internet and focused on US politics, the movement has seen sharp growth on mainstream social media platforms this year, prompting tech firms to tighten controls and ban QAnon followers.

The movement is centred on the unsubstantiated belief that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles. It has extended that this year to allege, without proof, that the coronavirus is a conspiracy by that group to control people using vaccines and 5G.

Did the pandemic have something to do with it?

Researchers detected sharp spikes in QAnon content and related searches in March, when many countries had started imposing lockdowns and other social distancing measures.

The anxiety, frustration and economic pain caused by the pandemic — coupled with the

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Windows XP Source Code Leaks In Torrent Spreading Bill Gates Conspiracies

Illustration for article titled Windows XP Source Code Leaked By Apparent Bill Gates Conspiracist

Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)

It’s probably not the biggest security issue that Microsoft is dealing with right now but the software giant probably isn’t happy about it either way: This week, a torrent appeared online that contained the apparent source code for Windows XP, the extremely outdated Microsoft operating system that still runs on millions of computers around the world. The leaker(s) also threw in a little Bill Gates conspiracy-mongering, as a treat.

The torrent appeared on 4Chan earlier this week and has since broken out of the trash zone, falling into the hands of security pros and tinkerers alike. Gizmodo reviewed the files and while we haven’t done anything with them, numerous experts and other outlets have verified the files’ authenticity. It’s the first time we’ve seen a major public leak of XP’s source code, though many people online claim that the collection has been

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