QAnon disinformation cult is behind #SaveTheChildren and #SaveOurchildren rallies

“Rallies planned on Facebook by QAnon supporters or sympathizers that have brought the conspiracy theory offline and into the town squares of dozens of cities in recent weeks.”

The cult-like conspiracy movement QAnon is behind nationwide rallies this weekend and viral #SavetheChildren hashtags all over social media right now, reports NBC News.

"While many of the Save the Children events do not openly espouse QAnon beliefs, the group's connection is never far," report Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins:

In early August, the hashtag #SaveTheChildren seemed to be everywhere. As it spiked, Facebook briefly disabled the hashtag, with a warning that it went against community standards. That action poured gasoline on the QAnon community, which rallied to circumvent what they claimed in groups was "censorship."

The hashtag was reinstated and continued to take off but lost steam when QAnon believers moved to #SaveOurchildren after realizing Save the Children, the humanitarian organization founded in 1919, was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates has been a constant target of unfounded conspiracy theories spread by QAnon groups since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The nonprofit organization Save the Children did not respond to a request for comment.

While 3.5 million users across thousands of groups were "talking about" #SaveTheChildren and #SaveOurchildren by Friday, according to Facebook data, the most engaging conversations were happening in Facebook groups and on Instagram accounts related to QAnon, according to an analysis by First Draft, a nonprofit that tracks misinformation online and provides research and training for journalists.

Read more: QAnon looms behind nationwide rallies and viral #SavetheChildren hashtags.

More from the reporters, on Twitter.