- Conspiracy theories calling Travis Scott’s concert a “satanic ritual” are spreading online.
- Videos have amassed millions of views across TikTok and YouTube.
- The baseless claims follow a similar uproar over Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes.”
Baseless conspiracy theories claiming that Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert was a “satanic ritual” are spreading online.
8 people died on Friday night amid an intense crowd surge during the rapper’s set at the musical festival. Houston officials declared the incident a “mass casualty event,” with an additional 300 people injured, Insider reported.
Some videos propagating false conspiracy theories in the wake of the event have amassed millions of views on social media platforms. Claims of satanic rituals have become so widespread that there are even popular compilation videos stitching together clips of TikToks purporting that the festival was a “ritual to sacrifice souls.”
Nearly all results of a search for “Astroworld” on TikTok on Wednesday morning were related to the conspiracy theories: “conspiricy,” [sic] “portal to hell,” “denomic,” [sic] “conspiricy hell,” [sic] “symbolism.” When typing in “Travis Scott,” the results were similar: “Travis Scott concert devil,” “Travis Scott concert portal to hell,” “Travis Scott Illuminati.” Searching for “Astroworld conspiracy” also brings up a batch of videos promoting the conspiracy theories. On YouTube, videos spreading those false claims have amassed hundreds of thousands of views.
The claims are spreading as platforms have sought to curb misinformation over the last year, particularly related to the pandemic.
Conspiracy theories about satanic rituals — or rituals that use imagery or themes related to Satan — follow the history of the “Satanic Panic” in the US when people began circulating false claims about children being abused in mass satanic rituals. Many people were convicted of crimes related to the panic, but some of them were later released, The New York Times reported.
One of the most popular conspiracy theory clips spreading online shows someone purporting to be an Astroworld attendee claiming that Scott was doing “some demonic shit” after “he just kept going” and performing despite people “screaming help.”
“I’ve been so heavily influenced by Travis, but after tonight, God really showed me, stay away from that shit,” the person said in the clip. “He sacrificed so many peoples’ lives tonight. It was a living hell.”
It is unclear who originally posted the video, but another person reshared the footage on TikTok and amassed over 8 million views and 1.3 million likes. Someone else reshared the same video on YouTube and received over 390,000 views.
The drama account Rich Lux, who has over 470,000 subscribers on YouTube, posted a video on Sunday titled “TRAVIS SCOTT DEMON CONSPIRACY THEORY ASTRO WORLD” that has garnered over 164,000 views. In the video, the influencer said that while they don’t believe Scott “is a demon,” they think he was “being used by demons to put out a message.”
The creator offered several baseless theories to explain the Astroworld deaths, including that the 8 people were “sacrificed” in honor of Kris Jenner, the mother of Scott’s partner, Kylie Jenner, because Kris’ birthday was Friday, the same night as the show. When reached for comment, Lux told Insider that he believed Scott was “possessed by a demon that night.”
NiTris Tv, a drama and hip-hop account with almost 600,000 subscribers on YouTube, posted a clip that featured him analyzing an Astroworld festival flyer and alleging that its details indicated a “satanic demonic ritual.” The YouTuber did not respond to a request for comment.
The video, posted Sunday, has gained over 140,000 views.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the conspiracy theory videos are still available to view and there are no “misinformation” labels attached to them.
Social media platforms have sought to curb misinformation over the last year, particularly related to COVID-19 and vaccines.
When asked about the two videos, a YouTube spokesperson told Insider they don’t violate the platform’s policies, but that the company was monitoring the situation and adding fact-check articles to appear at the top of certain search queries.
There were also many popular tweets spreading the same conspiracy theories. One user insinuated that Astroworld was “a sacrifice” because the entrance to the festival grounds — a giant structure designed to look like Scott’s face — looked similar to Hieronymous Bosch’s “Christ in Limbo” painting. The post has over 4,000 likes and 1,000 retweets. Another user tweeted that Scott’s recent music cover art, which depicted him as an evil-looking gremlin, is proof that Astroworld was a “sacrifice ritual and no one will change my mind about that.”
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
The conspiracy theories were also spreading on fringe social media platforms. One post with over 200 likes on Monday on a far-right forum suggested that the concert was a “ritual sacrifice” because Scott posted a statement about the incident on his Twitter at 11:16 p.m. on Saturday, November 6, which would symbolize “666,” the post’s creator wrote.
The phrase “Astroworld sacrifice” was trending on Facebook on Monday, with over 39,000 people talking about it on the platform, according to a screenshot shared by the BBC disinformation researcher Shayan Sardarizadeh.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.