Over the first few days after the Christchurch mosque massacre, two interlocking narratives developed. One was tallying up the carnage, and the other was the story of the alleged killer’s radicalization through social media. And of course, both narratives were driven in part by the conspiracy theories that both the killer espoused through his manifesto and that instantly sprouted up around the shooting.
None of this is new. Self-radicalization via social media is a huge issue that major tech companies are struggling to contain. And instant conspiracy theories are common to mass tragedies now, as we’ve seen time and time again in the last ten years.
But the reaction to the New Zealand massacre had one major difference that anyone who keeps tabs on conspiracy/extremist culture should be screaming to the high heavens about: the response of the US government to amplify, rather than condemn, the killer’s racism and the conspiracy theorists who push it.