Monday, August 27, 2018

"Secret message board drives 'pizzagate'-style harassment campaign of small businesses"

2010: alternate-reality games are convoluted puzzles that message board members team up to solve in order to receive video game souvenirs.

Now:

The harassment comes from a group of fervent online conspiracists who have been targeting private businesses and individuals with harassment campaigns and accusations of being involved with child-sex trafficking rings.

Sparked by a video posted on a popular YouTube conspiracy channel, the group, whose members are also largely followers of the Qanon conspiracy theory, has flooded Voodoo’s Instagram and Facebook posts and left Yelp reviews accusing the owners of child sex trafficking. Last week, the chain’s original Portland outpost received more calls from conspiracy theorists than customers ordering doughnuts, Monaghan said.

The group is fueled in part by a website called Big League Politics, a far-right media outlet that often publishes conspiracy content and has been used to raise funds for prominent Republican politicians. Some of the website’s stories appear to be sourced from a secret message board created by a Big League Politics staffer, in which members concoct elaborate, pedophilia-based conspiracy theories they hope will be published to a wider audience.