Apple, Google cashed in on Pizzagate-offshoot conspiracy app

Apple, Google cashed in on Pizzagate-offshoot conspiracy app

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An app promoting a conspiracy theory featuring Hillary Clinton and a child sex ring lingered at the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store for months, with both tech giants receiving a cut of the revenue in the process.

The app, called “QDrops,” sends alerts about a conspiracy theory called Qanon, an offshoot of the “pizzagate” fiction that claimed Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of the basement of a Washington pizza shop that didn’t even have a basement. Like many conspiracy theories, Qanon got its start on 4chan, an anonymous posting site that is a seedbed for extreme thought and a large number of online subcultures.

The QDrops App twitter feed
The QDrops App twitter feedNBC News

Apple removed the QDrops app from its app store on Sunday after inquiries from NBC News.

“The App Store has always supported all points of view being represented, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions and the quality of the experience is great,” Apple spokesperson Stephanie Saffer said in a statement. “We have published clear guidelines that developers must follow in order for their apps to be distributed by the App Store, designed to foster innovation and provide a safe environment to all of our users. We will take swift action to remove any apps that violate our guidelines or the law — we take this responsibility very seriously.

Launched in April, the app helped the Qanon conspiracy theory gain traction on the far right. Some followers of the theory have taken real-world action that has caught the attention of local authorities.

A group of believers in Tucson, Arizona, have been arguing with police over the last month at an abandoned homeless encampment, claiming with no evidence that the site was used as a child sex trafficking camp. In June, an armed Q follower blocked an entrance to the Hoover Dam with his vehicle. At recent Trump rallies, families and children have been pictured wearing Qanon merchandise. Billboards promoting websites selling Qanon apparel and other items have sprouted up in Georgia and Oklahoma.

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