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tv   This Is Life With Lisa Ling  CNN  October 17, 2021 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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>> it was di-mania. >> the one man she really wanted to adore her did not. to the outside world, it's still a fairy tale. but the reality is something completely different. just for diana to look camilla in the eye is a huge show of power. >> she wanted the life she had hoped for. she kept fighting for it. i'm in my bedroom on january 6th watching thousands of people at the united states capitol on the day that the presidential election was supposed to be certified. like most of us, last winter, i watched live as people stormed the united states
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capitol, fueled by the baseless claims the election was stolen. >> make no mistake this election was stolen from you, from me. >> this is the consequence of conspiracy theories running amuck. accusations of lies, treason and even pedophilia flew from all directions. it begs the question, how did we end up here? americans have always been phosphated with alternate versions of the truth. >> the clues are all there that it had the potential to get as huge as it's become. >> in the last decade, conspiracy thinking has gone main stream. it may not be entirely our fault. >> if are you a democrat, i'm a republican, the algorithm is incentivized to push us further apart. >> tonight we look at a system designed to stoke paranoia and
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play off our fears. >> it's psychological warfare with us as children. >> to meet someone who dove head first into a conspiracy theory. >> i couldn't stop thinking about it and it broke me. >> and someone who is still very much in it. >> you can't stop what's coming. >> what do you think is coming? >> justice. >> we like to think we're immune from misinformation, but the truth is far more complicated and these days harder than ever to discern. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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last year our world changed overnight. stores emptied. stadiums went silent. and all of us learned the meaning of social distance. at the same time that we isolated from each other -- >> we have the biggest debt toll so far. >> reporter: the volume of our news feed went to full plast. >> we are in debt. >> americans are dying. >> the coronavirus. >> reporter: we tried our best to keep up appearances, then weeks and months went by under lockdown, it got harder and harder. >> we are five months into this worldwide pandemic. >> reporter: people who looked leak they had it together were silently coming apart. >> i'm not playing a game.
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>> on july 5, 2020, at the height of the pandemic, a video started spreading on twitter showing a woman knocking over a display of masks in a target store. she live streamed the entire event. >> yay! whew! >> reporter: the video became a viral sensation and garnered the meme target karen. for the person that posted it, it was the end of a rapid downward spiral. >> at the beginning of the pandemic, i was just spinning trying to learn as much as i possibly could so i could be informed not only to make decisions for my health and my family's health, but to advise clients. >> melissa is well versed in appearances. she runs a small public relations firm catering to luxury and lifestyle. but her business was upended when the pandemic devastated arizona's hospitality industry. how did the pandemic start to
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affect you personally? >> i didn't know what to do with myself. it was a dead zone of time where i just had nothing to do other than panic. >> she had recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was prone to extreme anxiety. like many of us, she was faced with an information overload. >> my issue with dr. fauci right out the gate was initially he said no masks were necessary. then he dialed it back and said masks are necessary. i think that the juxtaposition of information that was so polar opposite was really what caused me to crack. i began to question what was happening. >> reporter: as she dug deeper into the internet trying to make sense of it all, she discovered a new theory. the pandemic was a coverup for something far worse.
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what were some of the things specifically that you saw that really affected you after going down that rabbit hole? >> i saw clips of videos that were floating around on twitter. it was people in positions of power abusing children with proof, that's their voice that's their house. i had never seen anything like that. >> reporter: she had stumbled into america's fastest-growing conspiracy theory qanon. >> the information seemed very real and very credible and horrifying. >> reporter: did you ever think that all could been contrived? >> i considered that. but i was deeply affected by the save the children messaging and the claims about widespread pedophilia. i just wanted to see justice and the truth come forward and i just couldn't let it go. >> reporter: by now, most of us have heard of the qanon
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conspiracy theory, a global trafficking ring, thousands of pedophiles and one man who will vanquish this evil, now former president donald trump. it sounds ridiculous, but some studying qanon say there are reasons why so many people are drawn to it. we all have a desire to fight for what is right and to feel like we are a part of something. something big and heroic. >> our leaders are using the blood of children for everything. >> it taps into people's desire for connection, for people feeling isolated or they didn't have a ton of purpose. this is incredibly productive. >> i am speaking with anna merlin, an investigative journalist who tracked how conspiracy movements like this one have risen to the surface. what is qanon and where did it come from? >> qanon is the conspiracy that
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took hold early on in donald trump's presidency. it is the idea he is secretly fighting a cabal and evil-doers and that we are being told what he is doing through mysterious clues dropped by someone calling themselves "q" who implies they are a high level operative in the trump administration. >> how does that become something that people have found themselves wanting to partake in? >> qanon has become a massive online role-playing game and it's very addictive. because it gives people a sense of participating in something really big. like if you put these clues together correctly, you will vain -- vanquish an unthinkable evil. >> reporter: anna tells me qanon is more than memes and viral clips. it's a part of the older, darker story. >> the idea of a secret group of sexually abusive evildoers is a
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medieval conspiracy theory. it is an antisemitic idea that holds that jews specifically -- meeting in secret late at night to slaughter christian children and use their blood in rituals. it is spread beyond that. you can see elements of it in qanon, which claims that evildoers are meeting in secret to abuse children. >> reporter: the ancient lie has been weaponized again and again throughout global history but still didn't deter melissa who, herself, was raised jewish and descended from holocaust survivors. >> even though there is a lot of anti-semitism that goes along with what qanon is about, that still didn't dissuade you? >> i picked and chose what i ascribed to and the rest of it i was like, i don't like that, i'm going to ignore that and the
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more detached from reality i got, the more of a risk that it had in my relationship with my husband. finally, things got so heated here, that he was like, either you cut this qanon out or we're done. so i said, fine, i'll go stay in a hotel. i was filled with rage. i was thinking about everything that i had learned about qanon. it's like, they're doing this to us. and when i saw the masks, i just lost it. >> i can't do it because i'm a blonde white woman? i don't have the [ bleep ]. >> the target video was one of several posted by melissa when she was following qanon. in them she bragged about connections to q and loyalties to donald trump and used a
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torrent of racist language. overnight, she lost clients, friends and nearly her marriage after her hushed filed for divorce. >> when you look at that video, what do you think about? >> never in a million years would i think that i would have been the type of person to join a cult. but that's exactly what i did. it's very easy to get swept up. >> based on a poll conducted in 2021, an estimated 15% of the american public still believed a secret group of pedophiles were controlling the government. that's millions of people. so i'm looking at this reddit page called qanon casualties, stories of people who have gone down this quarantine -- qanon rabbit hole. here's one that says i lost my
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mom to this qanon bull -- she talked about celebrities killing small children and drinking their blood. the saddest thing about all of this is how grounded in fear people are. we're all afraid. we are all unsure of what's going to happen tomorrow. where is it going to end? i have no idea. that's also really scary. qanon is a digital age phenomenon. but nothing exists in a vacuum. as it turns out, the paranoia that fuels "q" is as american as apple pie.
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it's easy to think of conspiracy theories as something new. a byproduct of the digital age, the journalist anna merlin points out, this has happened over and over again in america? conspiracy theories tend to come to prominence more during times of social upheaval, social change, confusion of major world events, all of those things can lead to an environment where people's imaginations can run wild. >> reporter: in the mid 20th century, most conspiracy theorys spread by word of mouth. while an escalating cold war bred fear of communism, a small group on the far right sought to capitalize on the resistance to change. >> the anti-communist, john burks society were engaged in
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spreading conspiracy theorys. they openly accused their political opponents of being communist, that the government was riddled with secret communists working to sort of undermine the workings of the government and this was an existential threat. >> the civil rights movement as we know it today is simply a part of a world wide movement organized and directed by communists to enslave all mankind. >> it's something that we have seen subsequently that people who don't believe what you believe ideologically are actually a danger to the united states and that idea has occurred quite a lot. >> these ideas can also take root when people have lost trust in their leaders. >> conspiracy theorists don't have to do very much work to make people believe the government is capable of the atrocities, because they have perpetrated them in the past. >> whether we're old or young, we can probably remember a time in our lives when something we thought was true
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was exposed as a lie. >> peace will be necessary for final success. we will do this because our own security is at stake. >> let me just say this, i have never on -- obstructed justice. >> we did not, repeat, did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages. >> the erosion of trust took its toll. by the end of the 20th century, studies showed that over 50% of americans believed in at least one conspiracy theory. >> the first time i noticed it, conspiracy culture was really popular in america is when i was going to go on shows. there was probably more people crowded around the conspiracy table than the ar-15 table. the clues were all there, actually, that it had the potential to get as huge as it's become. >> john ronson is no stranger to
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bizarre stories. an author and film-maker, he's covered secret military programs, psychopaths and brain -- mind control. two decades ago, it was a story about extremism that led him to the world of conspiracy thinking. >> i thought they would have things in common. they all believed there was a shadowy cabal secretly ruling the world inside a secret room. it's a very clear hoax that, of course, influenced the nazis, influenced white supremacists right up until today. >> john wanted to learn more how these things were spreading in fringe groups on the right and discovered a fan base determined to expose the threat of a new world order. >> victory is ours against the new world order, against the communists and socialists and bankers that run the whole filthy show.
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>> one obscure public tv show from texas amassed a cult following selling mail order videos. his name was alex jones. >> and now they run the world, they plan to sack this country. >> what was your relationship with alex jones? >> i first met alex jones when he was completely unknown, broadcasting out of a child's bedroom in his house. >> no longer is the new world order some foggy apparition over the next hill. the talk of extremists. >> but ronson discovered that he and jones shared a common fascination. there actually were powerful groups meeting in secret. vips who gathered on weekend outings in remote locations. >> that bohemian grove, this weird site in northern california where people are rumored to attend a ritual that ends in a human effigy being burned in front of a giant stone
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owl. >> the bohemian club was exactly what john was looking for. a secretive men's retreat who attendees have included power brokers, celebrities, and even former presidents. for 150 years, the gatherings had been a lightning rod for conspiracy theorists, alleging that this was where plots were hatched to build a new world order. >> when i heard that, i thought, i must try and sneak in and find out if it's true. >> we're going to get the information out to people. >> i remembered that guy alex jones, so i called him up, and i said, thinking about going to bohemian grove. you want to come? >> and you're not going to do anything stupid this weekend? >> i'm completely nonviolent when it comes to going out there and get the information. that's what i'm trying to do. >> what did you see when you got there? >> well, i mean the whole thing was amazing. we watched this ceremony which alex managed to film from the camera in his bag.
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>> the footage was shaky and dark, but captured what was clearly a ritual. >> they'd pick up the human effigy, throw it in the bonfire. >> bring fire! >> they would play saints go marching in and a big fireworks display. >> it turned out what john and alex jones witnessed was the bohemian club's annual summer kickoff, called the trcremationf care. creepy looking, yes, but more of a summer play put on by rich men. okay. so it was a weird event, but probably not particularly nefarious. >> it was odd but not nefarious. then alex brought out a video called dark secrets inside bohemian grove, like he'd stumbled into some sort of satanic ritual, spinning it to we had possibly witnessed a human sacrifice. >> if we kind of dissect this for a moment, what you observed
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was something that actually happened. this video is an example of how something can be spun into something that riles a lot of people up and instills fear. >> what we actually saw was extraordinary, you know, these high society people would do this on their summer vacations. yet alex wanted to turn it into something crazier, an actual human sacrifice. >> would you say that that was one of the events that kind of gained alex jones some legitimacy in certain circles? >> yes. dark secrets inside bohemian grove was alex jones' first hit. but then came 9/11, and that was the thing that really sent him flying. >> that is the world trade center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers. >> 9/11 was an incredibly shocking and violent and sudden event. people immediately started wondering if there was a
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political benefit to allowing the 9/11 attacks to happen. >> we want a new investigation into 9/11. >> 9/11 happened right around the time that blogging and youtube started to take off. all of a sudden, people who had alternate theories about 9/11 were able to share them in ways that they couldn't have before. >> the fuel would have burned off immediately upon impact. therefore, it is scientifically impossible that 12 tons of steel and titanium was vaporized by kerosene. >> loose change was a documentary about the 9/11 attacks that was put out in 2005. it was from top to bottom just a collection of 9/11 conspiracy theories. >> starting as a cult fascination when it hit the innocent, loose change soared in popularity. followers who called themselves truthers shared the video. >> it showed that a conspiracy theory didn't need to be
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promoted by someone really powerful. anybody's ideas could go viral. >> seems like a perfect storm now, but the evolution of all of those sites really expedited the ability of that information to start spreading. >> nothing was ever the same. the promotion of conspiracy theories was never the same, and 9/11 was really the first one where we saw how that was going to work. >> waiting in the wings to co-opt a growing movement was alex jones. where he once sold videotapes one by one, alex jones now had a main line straight into american households. a new website called infowars, which he used to amplify the 9/11 truth movement. >> alex very quickly became the world's leading 9/11 truther, promoting the idea that it was an inside job. it was always these elitists, the new world order, the fbi, they all tried to destroy our freedoms. >> but after the 2000s drew to a
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my life was relatively
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mundane. i guess you could say i was a normal high school student. i was actually interested in going into broadcast journalism to tell other people's stories and was just getting ready to apply to school and everything, and then the shooting happened. >> three years ago when david hogg was only 17, his high school became a hunting ground. >> we've gotten a horrific piece of news. i am sorry to have to report here that we're talking about a high school. shots have been fired. >> you see chaos, terrified students, their hands on their heads, running to safety. frightened parents rushing to the school, waiting for word on their children. are they dead or alive? >> 14 of david's classmates and 3 staff members were killed. he had just experienced the deadliest school shooting in american history. you mentioned that one of your first thoughts was your sister, who was in school with you. from the time that you started to feel that to the time you found out she was okay, what was
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that like for you? >> it was horrifying. and then getting home and not knowing how to console my sister after she had lost what we initially thought was three friends, what we found out was eventually four, how do you help someone that's 14 years old cope with that? you can't. >> devastated by the shooting in his community, and eager to voice his anger, david returned to the high school on his bike, where national media had converged on the scene. >> i found a camera crew who was recording for laura ingraham's show and said, hey, i was there. >> now on to an eyewitness. a student who was at stoneman douglas as this horrific event unfolded. >> i was just talking to anyone that wanted to talk to me. i was out until like 3:00 in the morning. then i got up the next morning after like getting three hours of sleep and went straight back to do more interviews. >> collectively, david and his classmates participated in over seven interviews in the 48 hours following the shooting. soon after, they found themselves on a collision course
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with alex jones, who had started using his infowars web cast to spread outrageous lies about mass shootings. >> my gut is with the timing and everything that happened, this is staged. >> the crisis actor conspiracy theory was really popularized after the sandy hook shootings, and it was basically a claim that mass shootings are not real, that they're staged by the government with the use of what are called crisis actors. >> by spinning this horrific lie, infowars had seized on fears that the federal government was planning a massive seizure of privately owned guns. >> they are going to try to physically ban all semiautomatic handguns and rifles and make you turn them in. >> of all the things that alex jones has promoted, it is one of the worst. the idea that they are not real people who actually died but, you know, actors playing a role. >> around 2:30, we heard
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gunshots. we initially thought it was a drill. >> he's saying on these videos, the timeline, this is when it's beginning in the closet. but when it's beginning, he's at his house and rides three miles on his bike. >> not true at all. what they do is take videos of me that say i went back to school on my bike and edit that to make it sound like i wasn't at school in the first place when i was. you can ask students in the classroom. you can ask students that i was with during the shooting. i was there. >> i mean the fact that you would even have to try to prove that you were there during a mass shooting is ludicrous. >> yeah, it is. it is absolutely ludicrous. >> fueled by infowars and conspiracy forums, accusations began ramping up. and when someone posted a video on youtube claiming david was an actor, it skyrocketed to number one on the platform overnight. what was that like when you first found out about it and to be the subject of all of that? >> youtube absolutely has control over what goes on their
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trending page. the fact that they made money from that through the monetization of that hatred is disgusting. but i realize the entire point of those things is to stop me from speaking. it's psychological warfare with us as children to stop us from advocating for what we believe in. >> the activism of parkland students did attract attention, a lot of it. and what started as small protests snowballed into a national youth-led movement for gun reform. how soon did you start to get death threats after you started speaking out? >> basically immediately. there were people that sent letters that said, f with the nra and you'll be doa. there were photos that were sent of me having my head cut off by isis. there were people that showed up with guns at our protests. they would follow us to our hotel with their gun in their hand. >> what did all this do to your
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family? how did it affect them? >> it's been incredibly traumatizing for them. i got a call from some random number that was the sheriff's office. they're like, hey, is somebody holding a gun to your head that's killed your entire family demanding $100,000 right now? i was like, no. and they're like, oh, well, we got a call about it, and the entire s.w.a.t. team for the county is on your front lawn with police helicopters around and snipers literally down the street pointed at your front door. >> local camera crews flocked to the scene, and the incident was broadcast nationwide. do you ever get concerned, david, that the more you speak out, the more you invite conspiracy theories to spew information about you? >> yeah, but the reality is i can't let that stop me. these conspiracy theories exist because there's a vacuum of truth. and the easy thing about that, to combat that side of it, is just tell the damn truth. you know, i love and enjoy youtube as a platform. i use it all the time. you know, we have seen great things come from them. but they also have the power to
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do just as much damage. >> misinformation packaged into youtube content has caused real harm, and social media companies are facing questions about how conspiracy theories spread on their platforms. as it turns out, it's baked into the very dna of how they were created and how they turn a profit. way. ♪ ♪ you're in good hands with allstate. click or call for a lower auto rate today. lowe's showrooms have a variety of stylish flooring you'll love for years to come. like stainmaster lifetime stain resistance limited warranty. order now, get your flooring installed with help from lowe's. home to any budget. home to any possibility. with voltaren arthritis pain gel my husband's got his moves back. an alternative to pain pills voltaren is the first full prescription strength gel for powerful arthritis pain relief...
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we can probably remember a time when social media stuck to the basics. friends, pictures, likes, and interests. so how did these platforms become a hotbed of misinformation and conspiracy theories? amidst growing public pressure, the united states congress went to social media giants for answers. >> it's not possible to catch every piece of harmful content without infringing on people's freedoms in i way i don't think we'd be comfortable with as a society. >> simply put, your company's bottom line -- you're not bystanders. you're encouraging this stuff. >> among those testifying were former executives who now harbored doubts about the design of their business. >> i wanted to improve the world that we all lived in. instead, social media services that i and others have built
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have torn people apart with alarming speed and intensity. i fear we are pushing ourselves to the brink of civil war. >> when tim kendall was hired by facebook in 2006 to be the head of monetization, it was his job to determine how the platform could make profits. how do social media companies make money? >> they sell ads. the way they grow is to extract more attention tomorrow than they did today. lisa signs up for the service and it takes in all these inputs about her. >> it's collecting by data. >> collecting your data. we have this content and we have this notion of who influences you. then we have this all-knowing algorithm that knows sort of what your weaknesses are, what your inclinations are, and then the algorithm is given a really clear piece of instruction. get lisa to spend more time tomorrow, and then a little bit more tomorrow. >> so, tim, if you and i have
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different habits and we consume different kinds of news and information, would you receive different information than i would receive based on -- >> absolutely. >> -- the data that's been collected? >> yes. you and i could get very different results depending on prior data about ourselves, prior data about the people around us, and even where we're located in the country. we've seen this play out with covid and the divergence of facts and opinions on that. like what is true? >> let's use hydroxychloroquine as an example. if i'm someone who thinks that there is a grain of possibility that it is the answer to our covid woes and i'm seeking that information out, will i continue to receive information that validates -- >> yes. >> -- what i've been looking for? >> yes. >> and if you on the other hand, discount it entirely, would you receive information that --
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>> yes. >> -- continues to discount it? >> yes. >> so how do you know what's real? how would anyone know what's real? >> that's the essence of why i'm so concerned. i mean ten years ago, it was pictures of our friends, and that was enough. but now it's conspiracy theories, incendiary content, violence, tribalism. the algorithm has figured out that driving wedges between people on these controversial issues is just wonderful business. >> do you think that there is this concerted effort to incite this kind of tribalism? >> my view is they don't have malicious intent. i think they're negligent. >> these algorithms, can they be built to work differently, to stop spreading information that is not true? >> you'd have to agree on a source of truth, and then you'd have to feed that truth into the algorithm. and then you'd have to tell the algorithm, create engagement, meet the profit numbers, but do
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it without lying. the reason that's not happening, in my view, is the incentives aren't there, even though i believe it is within their capability. >> you mean that facebook wouldn't make money? >> it wouldn't make as much money. >> in your congressional testimony, you expressed fear that the consequence of all of this could be civil war. why do you believe that? >> i was thinking about civil war because i think it's the natural extrapolation from an all-knowing algorithm that has the financial incentives to pull us apart. >> studies have shown that it only takes a few minutes of exposure to a conspiracy theory to alter your perspective. imagine the ripple effect magnified by millions when conspiracy theories are created, posted, and reposted by the leader of the free world.
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providing power to reduce emissions, intelligence to eliminate waste, and collaboration tools that help the workplace and the planet. between meeting human needs and a sustainable future, there's a bridge. cisco, the bridge to possible. make no mistake. this election was stolen from you, from me. >> after donald trump's baseless conspiracy theory that the
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election was stolen ended in violence, his twitter account was suspended permanently. and after he left office, many qanon followers left the online movement and disavowed it as a hoax. but a hard core group of believers still identify with their message, and i'm trying to find out why. so facebook, twitter, and instagram have really been cracking down on people who are posting anything qanon-related. so many people have moved to this other site that has no content controls and claims to be the world's premier free speech platform. the site is called parler, one of a handful of forums that have virtually no restrictions on -- >> i want to just engage in some conversation. a few days later, someone connected with us. he remains committed to q and agreed to chat on camera if we
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conceal his identity. how are you? >> i'm good. how are you? >> i'm doing well. thanks for talking to us. he calls himself d.c. and tells me that he too was banned from facebook but only after a group he created grew to over 90,000 followers. >> the name of the group was the whole purpose of the facebook page was to make -- when q posted, we would amplify that post on facebook. >> reporter: what role does donald trump play in your world view? >> he showed us what a real president can do. it's that simple. he was unbought. we although that if it wasn't for covid, trump would have probably had the best economy in history in his term. and i believe, 100%, that covid was brought on to squash the economic boom. >> reporter: so, you think that covid was something generated to
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defeat donald trump? >> not just donald trump, but america in general. >> reporter: with all due respect, your world view -- it seems pretty -- pretty dark. i mean, where do you think we're all headed? >> i think a lot of people are going to die. >> reporter: and how do you think people are going to die? >> vaccinations become mandatory. that's a pretty good way to kill a bunch of people. >> reporter: and do the people in your world, your friends, do they believe what you believe? >> no. i mention it to them, but i do not push it around them. i've lost friends from it, already. but stop being friends with someone, for me a legitimate reason. people need to know. >> reporter: so now that donald trump is no longer president, what do you think is going to happen to the movement? >> maybe, it is time for the people to take what they've learned and put it into action.
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>> reporter: how far are you willing to take this? you, obviously, feel very strongly about your beliefs. >> one thing i take more issue with than anything, if you wanted to quiet me down, you would crack down on pedophilia. if that was the only thing that would go away, i would be happy. >> reporter: but, dc, what if it's not true? like, what if it's not true? >> we won't know if it's not true if we can't bring it into the light, now, can we? all i'm doing is asking questions. all i have is a parlor account with maybe 30, 40,000 followers and that's it. i'm just trying to warn everybody. i believe that the best is yet to come. and i believe that you can't stop what's coming. >> reporter: and what do you think is coming? >> justice. ♪
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>> reporter: as we emerge from the pandemic, and rely on research and facts to guide us forward, one thing is clear. the truth is more important than ever but becoming harder and harder to pin down. >> i always thought rationality and reason would be the thing that saves us.
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but this far, it hasn't. t reason has been surprisingly ineffective. >> some lies never really go away. these are not fringe ideas being promoted by fringe people who don't have an audience. these are fringe ideas being promoted by people very much in the mainstream. what i worry about is that people will start to believe that there are no good sources of information, and that they have no way of knowing what is true and what is not true. >> reporter: pressure continues to build on social media giants to intervene, and play a more active role in fighting disinformation. and in response, ceos from twitter, google, and facebook, have pointed to changes, including fact-checking measures and de-platforming users who spread conspiracy theories. >> some of you will say we're doing too much and removing free speech rights. some of you will say we're not doing enough and end up causing more harm. both points of view are reasonable, and worth exploring.
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>> on youtube, livestreams and videos that violated our incitement to violence policies. >> if something is rated false, then we have warning labels and significantly reduced its distribution. the system isn't perfect, but it's the best approach that we have found to address misinformation in line with our coun country's values. >> reporter: quite a number of social media companies have deplatformed people who have been spewing misinformation and conspiracy theories. is that enough? >> my concern over the de-platforming that we have seen to date is it doesn't appear to be particularly consistent. i think that there need to be more transparent policies about what people can do and say on these platforms. and these companies have to exercise judgment around applying their policy, so that society doesn't unwind. >> reporter: until we get to a time and place where social media companies take full responsibility for misinformation on their platforms, we can listen to the people who've fallen down the rabbit hole and learn from their
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experience. >> when i really started to understand as i had come out of qanon, what it really was and how deep that hatred and -- and racism was sowed, i was absolutely horrified that i was involved in it in any way. i am deeply sorry, and, you know, i will spend the rest of my life trying to make it right. >> we are starting to see what it looks like when our sense of reality is incredibly fractured and divided. >> reporter: so what's the end result if we continue along on this path? where do we go from here? what happens? >> if we can't come to a shared sense of what we want this country to look like or even -- even the basic facts of what we are fighting about, we very literally can't get anywhere. we are just mired in an even more heightened version of the partisan divides that we've been dealing with for the last 50 years.
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>> reporter: no one wants to think that we have given up on shared truths. if there is a way forward, it won't be found within the comfort of our own virtual bubbles. but in the open, transparent, and sometimes uncomfortable exchange of ideas. hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the united states and all around the world. you are watching "cnn newsroom" and i'm rosemary church. just ahead. details on the hunt for kidnapped missionaries in haiti. now that a source there says police believe they know who's responsible. plus, disappointing economic news out of china. we are live in hong kong with the latest. and promising signs that the u.s. is gaining ground in the war on covid. but dr. fauci says, not so fast.

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