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Weaponized Conspiracies: Mapping the Social Ecology

PI: Mia Bloom, Georgia State University

Year selected for award: 2020

Weaponized Conspiracies: Mapping the Social Ecology of Misinformation, Radicalization and Violence
Principal Investigator: Mia Bloom, Georgia State University
Co-Principal Investigators: Dr. Sophia Moskalenko, Georgia State University and Dr. Nelly Lahoud, New America
Years of Award: 2020-2024
Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research
Project Description:
The project has set out to track how conspiracies are weaponized and how they go viral. We are seeing increased radicalization connected to conspiracy theories in the United States and globally.  Since dangerous conspiracies across the political spectrum employ the Internet to disseminate their views and recruit members, this basic research project will scrape, analyze, and assess open-source materials from the surface net, semi encrypted platforms, and the dark web, in order to build a model of conspiracy radicalization, recruitment, and operational planning. We seek to understand the social ecology of misinformation.
This project has already resulted in a number of concrete deliverables, including:

  • An academic press book, multiple op-eds and peer-reviewed publications, including scholarly articles dedicated to theory building and hypothesis testing
  • Seminars, trainings, and presentations across academic disciplines and to military branches and government agencies
  • Podcasts and Media Interviews for outreach and dissemination
  • Training and professional development opportunities for students, using novel and advanced methodological approaches and in multiple languages

To view project website, click here.

Select Publications:
Bloom, M. & Moskalenko, S. 2021. Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the QAnon mind. Redwood Press (Stanford University Press). 

Peer-reviewed research articles:
Moskalenko, S. & McCauley, C. 2021. Zip-tie guys: Military-grade radicalization among Capitol Hill insurrectionists. Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict.
Moskalenko, S. & McCauley, C. 2021. QAnon: Radical opinion versus radical action. Special Correspondence. Perspectives on Terrorism. 
Occasional and Opinion Articles:             
Moskalenko, S. 2021. Many QAnon followers report having mental health problems. The Conversation.
Bloom, M. & Maimon. 2021. “QAnon’s Jews, How an Anti Semitic Conspiracy is Infiltrating Israel,”  Haaretz.
Bloom, M. 2021.  “We knew QAnon is anti-Semitic now we know it’s racist too.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist.
Cross Branch dissemination:
Bloom, M. (May 2021) Bloom Presented Three Minerva Research Projects presented as part of the MISO training course at Fort Bragg, NC.
Moskalenko, S. (May 2021). Informational warfare and mass radicalization. MISO Training Course, Fort Bragg, NC.
Presentation on QAnon to the US Marshall Center, Garmisch Partichkeren, Germany, May 25. 2021.
Bloom, M. Briefing to the Secretary of Defence June 18, 2021
Bloom, M. &  Moskalenko, S. Briefing to NSC and Special Assistant to President Joseph R. Biden July 12, 2021.
Bloom, M. Briefing for USMA West Point Radicalization Research Group (August 11, 2021)