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Above Top Secret is a website centred on “alternative topics” and conspiracy theories. Popular topics include UFOs, 9/11 conspiracies, metaphyiscs, and the paranormal; many users also discuss current events from an alternative perspective. The site claims to be “the Internet’s largest and most active discussion site.”
The site was founded in 1999 by Simon Gray. After the September 11th attacks, the site received a dramatic increase in membership and has undergone many changes over the years. From its origins as an image site, it has expanded unto a hub for “alternative” internet users; it hosts a large forum, hosting services, member blogs, and debates. As of 2012, the site has nearly 273,000 members.
ATS prides itself on its community spirit, and advertises itself as a safe, friendly place for those wishing to discuss conspiracy theories. A strict “no hit-and-run posting” policy is enforced, that arguably maintains a civil and constructive atmosphere in the site. The site’s motto is “Deny Ignorance”, in reference to the theories and ideas shared in the forums. Some members engage in and share original research to further develop their theories.
Members of the community also host radio shows and video series, where they discuss theories and interview experts, to bring more information to the site’s userbase. The radio shows are streamed online, and broadcast over the air in Miami and Roswell, New Mexico.
Street View is a video series produced by ATS, where members take to the streets and ask the public what they know and believe about common conspiracy theories. The interviewers sometimes then educate the public about the theories, so some ATS users consider Street View to be a type of “public outreach” program.
In the Media
Since Above Top Secret is the internet’s largest hub for conspiracy theories, it is frequently referenced in the media. Prominent conspiracy authors, such as Jim Marrs, have referenced ATS users’ research in books.
The site has garnered some unwanted attention when it was revealed that some serial shooters such as Jeff Weise and Jared Loughner were members of the ATS community. ATS has done all it can to repudiate the view that it is a haven for the insane; some accounts have been banned for their users’ IRL activities, including that of Loughner.
Some ATS users have accused the moderation of censorship. Moderators often edit or delete posts that violate the strick posting rules, while sometimes making posts themselves that are in violation of the rules. Moderators also routinely delete posts that make reference to other conspiracy theory sites, in order to maintain what some view as ATS’s “corporate monopoly” on information on the internet.
Search interest in “Above Top Secret” has been increasing since 2008.
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