The conspirators use their old recipes on the death of Elizabeth II | Death of Queen Elizabeth II

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Conspirators use their old recipes on the death of Élisabeth II | Death of Queen Élisabeth II

Many publications on the Internet spread false information about the death of Elizabeth II, including the QAnon nebula.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II has given conspiracy theorists a chance to recycle their usual tactics to sow confusion online, providing a stark example of how misinformation spreads during of major news.

So, as the UK mourns its 96-year-old sovereign, false rumours, manipulated photos and other misinformation blaming her death on COVID-19 vaccines or Hillary Clinton on the internet are thriving. .

Far from being original, these themes had already emerged during the invasion of Ukraine by Russia or the death of the American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Misinformation began circulating from early concerns about the Queen's health, with Twitter accounts impersonating reputable outlets like the BBC and prematurely announcing her 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 death, giving the spreaders of misinformation an endless reservoir of misleading stories to draw upon.

—Dan Evon, News Literacy Project

Among them: a video from a month ago of people dancing outside Buckingham Palace that was edited to make it look like Irish people were dancing for joy after being told of the Queen's death, a fake post of former US President Donald Trump claiming he was knighted by the monarch, or a faked image of Meghan Markle, wife of Prince Harry, wearing a t-shirt with the inscription The Queen is dead.

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

Others have held Hillary Clinton responsible, alleging that the sovereign had in her possession compromising files on the former White House candidate whom she was about to blast in court. big day. This is an old conspiracy theory that the Clintons would have their political opponents assassinated.

When an important event occurs, an activist attempts always have to find an angle that lends itself to one's 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 is a way to blame the death of a public figure on vaccination, he explains.

Those who adhere to the ideas of the QAnon nebula have associated the death of the queen with their beliefs that there is a global satanist and pedophile conspiracy, using it to validate the legitimacy of their movement.

“The Royal Family, given the well-known close relationship between Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein, has always given QAnon followers a grain of salt.

— Center for an Informed Public Fellow Rachel Moran

A popular video among QAnon supporters, which has spread like wildfire on social network TikTok, which they claim shows a naked boy escaping from Buckingham Palace, turned out to be an old TV show promo clip.

The week after Elizabeth II's death, 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 media, websites, on radio, television and in the press. Stories linking Elizabeth II to pedophilia, Hillary Clinton and vaccines were mentioned 42,000, 8,000 and 7,000 times respectively.

The continuous information about 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. /p>

“Accepting ordinary explanations for such an important event may be less convincing or less appealing. »

— Karen Douglas, professor of social psychology at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom

But there are ways to avoid falling into the trap of misinformation.

Media literacy organizations, such as CIP, recommend comparing online posts to trusted news sources and pausing before sharing them.

Even a few moments of reflection can often make a big difference, says Gordon Pennycook of the University of Regina in Canada.

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