B.C. wildfires fuel online conspiracy theories, says researcher

CBC News
May 26, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Darryn Wellstead

As wildfires burn in parts of British Columbia, rumours and conspiracy theories about them are spreading online, according to a researcher. Darryn Wellstead, who researches social media and misinformation and teaches sociology at Northern Lights College in Fort St. John, B.C., says social media covers a multitude of theories, including how climate change is a hoax used to destroy the oil and gas industry and how the government uses wildfires as a scare tactic to force people into 15-minute cities. “Most of the theories were that the fires were politically motivated and not just a consequence of accidents or bad decision making,” said Wellstead. …Forrest Tower, a B.C. Wildfire Service information officer, is no stranger to conspiracy theories. In 2021, Tower was the subject of a theory that alleged he was a government-hired actor and not a real person, given how well his name suits his job. 

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