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Insider - November 11, 2020

It was in March when yoga instructor Jennifer Davis-Flynn noticed her Instagram feed starting to change.

She saw fellow yogis expressing doubts about the severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, challenging government-mandated lockdowns and mask-wearing regulations, and positing whether natural medicine and meditation could best protect us from the viral threat. Their claims have been proven false by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as both agencies have repeatedly asserted that the best defense against the virus is social distancing and mask-wearing.

Then, in late April, the tone of the posts became increasingly ominous, Davis-Flynn, who is also a freelance journalist, told Insider. Yogis she followed suggested baseless conspiracy theories, including that the virus might be a hoax caused by a shadowy high-tech influence of 5G, or a cover to inoculate every citizen with a vaccine hiding a tracking device.

Suddenly, accounts that previously served up "fitspiration" or glossy messages about light and love were peppered with posts baselessly referencing an insidious underworld of child exploitation, sex crimes, the devil, and a coming war between good and evil. 

"All of a sudden Satan would come in and I was, like, 'What?!' I've never seen a yoga teacher talk about Satan before," Davis-Flynn said. They had been red-pilled, and had fallen down the QAnon rabbit hole.

QAnon has long been focused on Trump, but some yogis consume the theories without the politics

QAnon is the baseless far-right conspiracy theory that alleges Trump is fighting a deep-state cabal of Satanic pedophiles. It has seen huge surges in popularity in recent years.

It originated on far-right message boards. The anonymous "Q" figure has been leaving cryptic messages (or "Q drops") for followers since the fall of 2017, pedaling conspiracy theories linked to dozens of alleged crimes in the US.

The FBI said in 2019 that the movement posed a domestic-terrorism threat. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter have announced attempts to shut it out of their platforms

Read full report at Insider