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Instagram Is the Internet’s New Home for Hate

Taylor Lorenz
Instagram Is the Internet’s New Home for Hate

When Alex, now a high-school senior, saw an Instagram account he followed post about something called QAnon back in 2017, he’d never heard of the viral conspiracy theory before. A year and a half later, Alex, who asked to use a pseudonym, runs his own Gen Z–focused QAnon Instagram account, through which he educates his generation about the secret plot by the “deep state” to take down Donald Trump. “I was just noticing a lack in younger people being interested in QAnon, so I figured I would put it out there that there was at least one young person in the movement,” he told me via Instagram direct message. Instagram is teeming with these conspiracy theories, viral misinformation, and extremist memes, all daisy-chained together via a network of accounts with incredible algorithmic reach and millions of collective followers—many of whom, like Alex, are very young.