QAnon flag at a Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Virginia, in 2020

QAnon[a] (/ˌkjəˈnɒn/), or simply Q, is a disproven and discredited American far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping,[1] cannibalistic pedophiles was running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotted against former U.S. president Donald Trump while he was in office.[2][3][4][5] QAnon is commonly called a cult.[6][7][8]

QAnon commonly asserts that Trump has been planning a day of reckoning known as the "Storm", when thousands of members of the cabal will be arrested.[9][10] QAnon supporters have accused many liberal Hollywood actors, Democratic politicians, and high-ranking government officials of being members of the cabal.[11] They have also claimed that Trump feigned conspiracy with Russians to enlist Robert Mueller to join him in exposing the sex trafficking ring and preventing a coup d'état by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros.[12][13] The QAnon conspiracy theories have been amplified by Russian state-backed troll accounts on social media,[20] as well as Russian state-backed traditional media.[14][21]

Although preceded by similar viral conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate,[22][23] which has since become part of QAnon, the conspiracy theory began with an October 2017 post on the anonymous imageboard website 4chan, by "Q" (or "QAnon"), who was presumably an American individual;[24] it is now more likely that "Q" has become a group of people acting under the same name.[25][26] A stylometric analysis of Q posts claims to have uncovered that at least two people wrote as "Q" in different periods.[27][28] Q claimed to be a high-level government official with Q clearance, who has access to classified information involving the Trump administration and its opponents in the United States.[29] NBC News reported that three people took the original Q post and shortly thereafter spread it across multiple media platforms to build an Internet following for profit. QAnon was preceded by several similar anonymous 4chan posters, such as FBIAnon, HLIAnon (High-Level Insider), CIAAnon, and WH Insider Anon.[30] Although American in origin, there is now a considerable QAnon movement outside of the United States, including in the United Kingdom and France since 2020,[31] with a "particularly strong and growing" movement in Germany and Japan.[32] Japanese QAnon adherents are also known as "JAnon" (Japanese: Jアノン).[33]

QAnon adherents began appearing at Trump reelection campaign rallies in August 2018.[34] Bill Mitchell, a broadcaster who has promoted QAnon, attended a White House "social media summit" in July 2019.[35][36] QAnon believers commonly tag their social media posts with the hashtag #WWG1WGA, signifying the motto "Where We Go One, We Go All".[37] At an August 2019 Trump rally, a man warming up the crowd used the QAnon motto, later denying that it was a QAnon reference. This occurred hours after the FBI published a report calling QAnon a potential source of domestic terrorism, the first time the agency had so rated a fringe conspiracy theory.[38][39] According to analysis by Media Matters for America, as of October 2020, Trump had amplified QAnon messaging at least 265 times by retweeting or mentioning 152 Twitter accounts affiliated with QAnon, sometimes multiple times a day.[40][41] QAnon followers came to refer to Trump as "Q+".[42]

The number of QAnon adherents is unclear,[43] but the group maintains a large online following. The imageboard website 8chan, rebranded to 8kun in 2019, is QAnon's online home, as it is the only place Q posts messages.[5][44][45][46] In June 2020, Q exhorted followers in a post on 8chan to take a "digital soldiers oath"; many did, using the Twitter hashtag #TakeTheOath.[47] In July 2020, Twitter banned thousands of QAnon-affiliated accounts and changed its algorithms to reduce the conspiracy theory's spread.[48] A Facebook internal analysis reported in August 2020 found millions of followers across thousands of groups and pages; Facebook acted later that month to remove and restrict QAnon activity,[49][50] and in October it said it would ban the conspiracy theory from its platform altogether.[51] Followers had also migrated to dedicated message boards including EndChan, where they organized to wage information warfare in an attempt to influence the 2020 United States presidential election.[52]

After Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, updates from Q declined dramatically. QAnon beliefs became a part of attempts to overturn the election results, culminating in the storming of the United States Capitol, leading to a further crackdown on QAnon-related content on social media.[53][54][55][56] On the day of Biden's inauguration, Ron Watkins, a former site administrator for 8chan and a de facto leader among QAnon adherents, suggested it was time to "go back to our lives as best we are able".[57][58] Other QAnon adherents believed that Biden's inauguration was "part of the plan".[58]

Cite error: There are <ref group=lower-alpha> tags or {{efn}} templates on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist|group=lower-alpha}} template or {{notelist}} template (see the help page).

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference far-right conspiracy theory was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Colby Itkowitz, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Lori Rozsa and Rachael Bade (August 20, 2020). Trump praises baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, says he appreciates support of its followers. The Washington Post.
  3. ^ Associated Press (February 9, 2020). QAnon supporters sharing 'deep state' satanic sex trafficking ring/cannibalism theories at Trump rallies. Fox.
  4. ^ Vox Staff. QAnon: The conspiracy theory embraced by Trump, several politicians, and some American moms. Vox.
  5. ^ a b Roose, Kevin (August 28, 2020). "What Is QAnon, the Viral Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory?". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  6. ^ Polantz, Katelyn (January 15, 2021). "US takes back its assertion that Capitol rioters wanted to 'capture and assassinate' officials". CNN. Retrieved January 16, 2021. Prosecutors accuse Chansley of being a flight risk who can quickly raise money through non-traditional means as 'one of the leaders and mascots of QAnon, a group commonly referred to as a cult (which preaches debunked and fictitious anti-government conspiracy theory)'.
  7. ^ "Without Their 'Messiah,' QAnon Believers Confront A Post-Trump World". Fresh Air. NPR. January 28, 2021. Washington Post national technology reporter Craig Timberg ... tells Fresh Air[,] 'Some researchers think it's a cult ...'"
  8. ^ Gregory Stanton (September 9, 2020). "QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded". Just Security.
  9. ^ Rozsa, Matthew (August 18, 2019). "QAnon is the conspiracy theory that won't die". Salon. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  10. ^ Spring, Marianna; Wendling, Mike (September 3, 2020). "The link between Covid-19 myths and QAnon". BBC News. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  11. ^ Sommer, Will (July 7, 2018). "What Is QAnon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Laviola, Erin (August 1, 2018). "QAnon Conspiracy: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.
  13. ^ Stanley-Becker, Isaac (August 1, 2018). "'We are Q': A deranged conspiracy cult leaps from the Internet to the crowd at Trump's 'MAGA' tour". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Reuters20200824 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  15. ^ Ross, Jamie (November 2, 2020). "Russia-Backed Twitter Accounts Pushed QAnon Theory Right From Its Start, Says Report". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  16. ^ "Russian troll accounts purged by Twitter pushed Qanon, other conspiracies". NBC News. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  17. ^ Menn, Joseph (November 2, 2020). "QAnon received earlier boost from Russian accounts on Twitter, archives show". Reuters. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  18. ^ "Congressman Krishnamoorthi Requests Information From DNI Ratcliffe On Russian Use QAnon In Disinformation Efforts". Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. October 19, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  19. ^ "Russian Trolls Spread Baseless Conspiracy Theories Like Pizzagate And QAnon After The Election". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  20. ^ Multiple sources:[14][15][16][17][18][19]
  21. ^ Davis, Julia (August 24, 2020). "Russia Using QAnon Conspiracies to Help Get Trump Re-Elected". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 7, 2021.
  22. ^ Sullivan, Margaret (August 1, 2018). "As the bizarre QAnon group emerges, Trump rallies go from nasty to dangerous". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  23. ^ Greenspan, Rachel E. (September 29, 2020). "QAnon conspiracy theorists have been linked to a killing and multiple armed stand-offs. Here are the criminal allegations connected to the movement and its followers". Insider. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  24. ^ Cite error: The named reference nymag was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  25. ^ Cite error: The named reference dailydot was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  26. ^ Brean, Henry (July 13, 2018). "Suspect in Hoover Dam standoff writes Trump, cites conspiracy in letters". Las Vegas Review-Journal. ISSN 1097-1645. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  27. ^ Gilbert, David. "QAnon's Mysterious Leader 'Q' Is Actually Multiple People". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  28. ^ "Style analysis by machine learning reveals that two authors likely shared the writing of QAnon's messages at two different periods in time". OrphAnalytics. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  29. ^ Griffin, Andrew (August 24, 2020). "What is Qanon? The Origins of the Bizarre Conspiracy Theory Spreading Online". The Independent. London. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  30. ^ Zadrozny, Brandy; Collins, Ben (August 8, 2018). "How three conspiracy theorists took 'Q' and sparked Qanon". NBC News. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  31. ^ "Europe's QAnon followers embrace US election conspiracy theories". Politico. November 6, 2020.
  32. ^ Harwell, Drew; Timberg, Craig (January 20, 2021). "QAnon believers grapple with doubt, spin new theories as Trump era ends". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 21, 2021. He and other researchers have also chronicled an increasingly global QAnon movement that could outlast its potential weakening in the United States as events and an aggressive crackdown by social media platforms limit the ideology's reach among Americans. The QAnon followings in Germany and Japan are particularly strong and growing, said Finkelstein, whose research group tracked a surge in QAnon terms the morning of the January 6 Capitol attack, including one that said "qarmyjapanflynn".
  33. ^ 藤倉善郎 (December 30, 2020). "日本で繰り返されるトランプ応援デモの主催者・参加者はどんな人々なのか". Harbour Business Online.
  34. ^ Bank, Justin; Stack, Liam; Victor, Daniel (August 1, 2018). "What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory That Showed Up at a Trump Rally". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  35. ^ Roose, Kevin (July 10, 2019). "Trump Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Right-Wing Social Media Trolls". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  36. ^ Durkee, Alison (July 8, 2019). "Trump's "Social Media Summit" Is a Far-Right Troll Convention". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  37. ^ "What is the QAnon conspiracy theory?". CBS News. September 29, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  38. ^ Cite error: The named reference wapoaug2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  39. ^ Kovensky, Josh (August 2, 2019). "Ex-Dem Who Spouted QAnon Slogan At Trump Rally Disavows QAnon". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  40. ^ Kaplan, Alex. "Trump has repeatedly amplified QAnon Twitter accounts. The FBI has linked the conspiracy theory to domestic terror". Media Matters for America. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  41. ^ Nguyen, Tina (July 12, 2020). "Trump isn't secretly winking at QAnon. He's retweeting its followers". Politico.
  42. ^ LaFrance, Adrienne (June 2020). "The Prophecies of Q". The Atlantic. ISSN 1072-7825. Archived from the original on August 29, 2020. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  43. ^ James Shanahan, Support for QAnon is hard to measure – and polls may overestimate it, The Conversation (March 5, 2021).
  44. ^ Weill, Kelly (November 12, 2020). "QAnon's Home 8kun Is Imploding – and Q Has Gone Silent". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  45. ^ Thomas, Elise (February 17, 2020). "Qanon Deploys 'Information Warfare' to Influence the 2020 Election". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  46. ^ Cite error: The named reference Vice-Gilbert-2020-03-02 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  47. ^ Rosenberg, Matthew; Steinhauer, Jennifer (July 14, 2020). "The QAnon Candidates Are Here. Trump Has Paved Their Way". The New York Times.
  48. ^ Conger, Kate (July 21, 2020). "Twitter Takedown Targets QAnon Accounts". The New York Times.
  49. ^ Sen, Ari; Zadrozny, Brandy (August 10, 2020). "QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show". NBC News.
  50. ^ Seetharaman, Deepa (August 19, 2020). "Facebook Removes QAnon Groups as It Expands Anti-Violence Policy". The Wall Street Journal.
  51. ^ O'Sullivan, Donie (October 6, 2020). "Three years later, Facebook says it will ban QAnon". CNN. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  52. ^ Thomas, Elise (February 17, 2020). "Qanon Deploys 'Information Warfare' to Influence the 2020 Election". Wired. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  53. ^ Kuznia, Rob; Devine, Curt; Griffin, Drew. "How QAnon's lies are hijacking the national conversation". CNN. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  54. ^ Zadrozny, Brandy; Gains, Mosheh. "Woman killed in Capitol was Trump supporter who embraced conspiracy theories". NBC News. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  55. ^ "Twitter blocks 70,000 QAnon accounts after US Capitol riot". AP NEWS. January 12, 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  56. ^ Roose, Kevin (January 17, 2021). "A QAnon 'Digital Soldier' Marches On, Undeterred by Theory's Unraveling" – via
  57. ^ Amore, Samson (January 20, 2021). "QAnon in Meltdown After Biden Inauguration: 'We Need to Go Back to Our Lives'". TheWrap. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  58. ^ a b Harwell, Drew (January 20, 2021). "QAnon believers grapple with doubt, spin new theories as Trump era ends". The Washington Post.