(Image: Sipa USA/Graeme Sloan)

Australians have been perplexed by the dark arts of media manipulation as outlined in the recently leaked activist manual of the far-right extremist group the National Socialist Network (NSN). But the NSN are boy scouts when compared with the breadth and scale of the digital illusionists from Russia and China that continue to amplify QAnon conspiracy theories.

A new report from US-based consultancy The Soufan Center points to Russia and China as being heavily involved in leveraging the QAnon conspiracies to promote division in the United States, with cameo appearances from players in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

QAnon is a shorthand reference to a mixed bag of conspiracies that include -- but are not limited to -- belief in voter fraud and a rigged US election, disbelief in the existence of the coronavirus, and child sex trafficking among elites.