The lives of the Benassi family are in danger. Totally baseless speculation caught everyone’s attention on YouTube. It went even more viral than the coronavirus when China realized the theory offers them a way out. Their propaganda ministry instantly started sending traffic to the video that “doxxes” a terrified family. YouTube won’t do anything about it.
A family’s lives in danger
Conspiracy theorists conveniently latched on to a U.S. Army reservist as some kind of Deep State patient zero, covertly planting 2019-nCoV in Wuhan for the Pentagon. The video producer speculates, without a shred of evidence, that the civilian Army employee started the coronavirus pandemic in China all by herself.
The false allegations against Maatje Benassi quickly racked up hundreds of thousands of YouTube views, especially after the Chinese Communist Party started steering people to it. They’re using the baseless video as part of their defense, in an attempt to evade responsibility. The lives of Maatje, her husband, and their two children are at serious risk and there’s virtually nothing the family can do about it.
Neither Maatje Benassi or her husband, Matt Benassi, ever tested positive for the strain, or even experienced any symptoms. That doesn’t stop major Chinese social media sites that are “known drivers of large-scale coordinated activities by their followers” to widely promote the misinformation. The worst part, the couple relates, is that “their home address has been posted online.”
Before they could get their social media accounts closed, they exploded with messages. All the true believers of the dangerous click-bait conspiracy came out of the woodwork. “It’s like waking up from a bad dream, going into a nightmare – day after day,” Maatje Benassi sighs.
How it all got started
The core of the conspiracy theory started “in the early weeks of the coronavirus,” CNN reports. That’s when producers of salacious but misleading news began claiming, without evidence, that it was a U.S. biological weapon. Many believe those rumors were started by the Chinese. We do know that even if they didn’t start them, they made sure to spread them around. One official spokesman even jumped on the bandwagon.
That prompted Mark Esper to take notice, calling the propaganda “completely ridiculous.” According to the Defense Secretary, “it’s irresponsible” for a Chinese government spokesperson to “promote such a claim.” Long after the virus went global, the internet pointed the finger at Benassi in March. The family has been in fear for their lives ever since.
Maatje Benassi works as a civilian security officer at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, an Army base. Matt Benassi retired from the Air Force but still works as a civilian employee at the Pentagon. They both remain active in their jobs. Maatje was a cyclist in the Military World Games, held in Wuhan, China, between October 18-28, 2019. The event is the military version of the Olympics.
A fateful accident
Maatje Benassi didn’t go home with a gold medal. An accident on the final lap of her cycling competition sent her flying. She suffered a fractured rib and concussion but managed to finish the race. Afterward, she went to the local hospital to get checked out. Now she’s a conspiracy all by herself. Thanks to 59-year-old YouTube guru George Webb, the lives of her entire family are in jeopardy.
Webb is an expert at generating an emotional response in the audience who watches his videos. For years, he’s been streaming hours of live “diatribe,” earning him “more than 27 million views and almost 100,000 followers.” He’s the one behind the fake news story which shut down the shipping port at Charleston, South Carolina. False claims of a “dirty bomb” on a cargo ship pushed a real response from cautious officials.
The Benassis tried to get the videos taken down, but YouTube calls them “free speech.” They contacted a lawyer who advised he can help for a wildly outrageous up-front retainer but there still isn’t much he can do. The local police say they can’t help either.