MMP: QAnon

Anthony Crider. "QAnon at Virginia 2nd Amendment Rally (2020 Jan)." https://www.flickr.com/photos/acrider/49416341132. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/. No changes were made.

QAnon

QAnon is a popular conspiracy theory operating primarily in the United States.

Key Statistics

2017 First Recorded Activity
2018 First Attack
2022 Profile Last Updated

Profile Contents

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Overview

Narrative of the Organization's History

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Organization

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

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Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

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Major Attacks

First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks

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Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

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Maps

Mapping relationships with other militant groups over time

Contact MMP

Send a message to the Mapping Militants team.

Download Full Profile as PDF

Last updated April 2022.

How to Cite

Mapping Militant Organizations. “QAnon.” Stanford University. Last modified April 2022. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/qanon
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Organizational Overview

Formed: October 28, 2017

Disbanded: Group is Active.

First Attack: June 15, 2018: Matthew Wright staged an attempted terrorist attack near the Hoover Dam outside Las Vegas, Nevada. His confession letter included references to the QAnon conspiracy.[1]

Last Attack: February 3, 2022: A butterfly sanctuary on the U.S.-Mexico border was forced to close indefinitely due to credible threats posed by QAnon supporters, who believed the center to be a site of human trafficking.[2]

Executive Summary

QAnon is a popular conspiracy theory operating primarily in the United States. While originally an online community inspired by an anonymous 4chan user who went by “Q,” it has since expanded into politics and general U.S. culture and has inspired violent attacks. Adherents promote the idea that an elite cabal that controls U.S. politics and media and engages in cannabalism and sex trafficking of children. Q has not posted since December 8, 2020, but the movement continues to evolve with the help of other online leaders and political figures.

Group Narrative

QAnon is a right-wing conspiracy-based online movement which first emerged in 2017 (ADL n.d.). The conspiracy first emerged on the 4chan anti-semitic, racist, and self-proclaimed politically-incorrect channel /pol/ on October 28, 2017.[3]

The /pol/ forum frequently discussed different conspiracy theories. Prior to Q, a specialized type of Live Action Role Playing (LARP) that frequently appeared on 4chan [4] had users pretend “to be a well-placed source with confidential information about current events, which they then leak to the anons.”[5]

As part of this trend, a previously unknown user appeared in late 2017 and posted a series of cryptic messages laying out the fundamental tenets of the conspiracy in a post called “the Calm Before the Storm.”[6] These tenets include:

  • Every president until Donald Trump has been a “puppet” leader
  • The government -- along with other banking institutions, entertainment industry, and the Catholic Church -- is run by a cabal of global elites known as the “Deep State” 
  • These global elites maintain a Satanic child sex ring in order to engage in acts of cannibalism
  • “White Hats” within the Deep State prevented Hillary Clinton from stealing the election by backing Donald Trump
  • Trump’s presidency is critical to dismantling the Deep State 

 

“The Calm Before the Storm” is itself a reference to a comment made by Donald Trump on October 5, 2017 at a White House dinner with military commanders. When asked to clarify what he meant by the statement, Trump cryptically responded “you’ll see.”[7] 

On November 1, the user posted again using the name “Q”, which refers to the top Department of Energy security clearance level.[8] Through a series of short, staccato posts, “Q” began to hint at a larger conspiracy to retake America from the deep state, a prophesied apocalyptic event which would be known as the “Storm.”[9] According to Q, the “storm” will see Trump launch a massive counter-coup against political elites and members of the Deep State.[10] The phrase “the storm is here” refers to the time when Trump will formally launch the countercoup.[11] The countercoup will be met with mass arrests of the “Deep State” cabal and entertainment industry.[12] 

Users initially mocked the post as yet another LARPer. However, the user gained “credibility” when he correctly predicted a Trump tweet would include a certain word (“business” on Small Business Saturday) and posted some photos of a cloud that corresponded with a plane trip Trump was on.[13] These instances were later labeled “Q Proofs,” and began a trend of users searching for “proof” of Q’s legitimacy in predictions and coincidences.[14]

On November 2, a suspected-Russian twitter account known as “CrusadersPost” became the first account to use the term “QAnon” on Twitter on November 2.[15] The conspiracy theory gained additional traction the next day when two 4chan moderators known as “PamphletAnon” (Coleman Rogers) and “BaruchtheScribe” (Paul Furber) reached out to a right-wing Youtube vlogger known as Tracy Diaz.[16] On November 3, Tracy Diaz introduced the “Q” message to her Youtube followers.[17] She posed the Q messages as a puzzle and discussed different interpretations of the clues supposedly left by Q in his post. Following this event, suspected Russian twitter accounts began retweeting and amplifying Diaz’s QAnon video on Twitter.[18] Within a month, the “Q” user claimed the 4chan board had been “infiltrated,” without specifying who by. Q switched to posting on Paul Furber’s board on 8chan, the even more unregulated version of 4chan.[19]

Between November and mid-December 2017, QAnon explainer videos received nearly 200,000 views while a QAnon book tutorial received 137,000 views.[20] During this time, several other QAnon content creators gained popularity. Diaz along with the two 4chan moderators, Rogers and Furber, decided to capitalize on their early success by moving the “QAnon” message to a more mainstream audience on Reddit. They set up CBTS_Stream (short for Calm Before The Storm) and soon gained 20,000 followers there, while also attracting new followers to the 8chan board.[21]  For many, the jump from 4chan to Reddit was a key turning point in the movement’s perceived credibility and influence potential.[22]

In December 2017, popular InfoWars conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi took interest in QAnon, publicizing the conspiracy and encouraging viewers to help “research” the clues. Rogers and Furber were invited to speak on InfoWars about QAnon. This attention greatly expanded its reach and access to more mainstream news sources.[23]

In March 2018, Reddit shut down the “CBTS_Stream” forum for “encouraging or inciting violence.” Rogers circumvented Reddit by launching “Patriots’ Soapbox LLC” on Youtube, a continuous broadcast of a Discord chat discussing the conspiracy. By August 2018, the feed had 46,000 subscribers.[24]

On April 7, 2018, in one of the earliest physical meetups, approximately 100 Q supporters marched from the White House to the Department of Justice. The group called the event “Operation Justice” and “March for Transparency.”[25]

On June 15, 2018, Matthew Wright staged an attempted terrorist attack near the Hoover Dam outside Las Vegas, Nevada. His apology statement from jail ended with a phrase commonly used by Q, “where we go one, we go all,”[26] which caused authorities to suspect the attempted attack was QAnon-related.

 In July 2018, a group of supporters wearing QAnon t-shirts and gear sat behind Trump at a rally in Florida.[27] A similar event occurred on August 2 when cameras spotted multiple attendees at a Trump rally carrying “We are Q” signs and wearing QAnon t-shirts.[28] The first two “Q candidates” appeared in the 2018 midterm elections, although neither bids for office were successful.[29]

On July 6, 2019, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested.[30] The Epstein case caused a substantial increase of support for QAnon, and many followers felt they had been vindicated. 8chan’s site traffic hit 4 million users, largely due to the bump from QAnon.[31] However, in August 2019, two companies that provided web infrastructure for 8chan cut off services, citing the fact that multiple mass shooters had posted their manifestos on the site.[32] This took the site offline, meaning no new posts from Q. After 3 months, the owners were finally able to find new web infrastructure providers, and launched 8kun, where Q immediately returned to posting.[33]

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to lockdown restrictions, and many people turned to the internet for answers and community.[34] QAnon Facebook groups allegedly increased in size up to 120% during March.[35] Online communities for spirituality and health and wellness especially were led towards QAnon by algorithms, and QAnon became a center for anti-mask conspiracies.[36] On March 23, 2020 Q posted in support of the theory that COVID had been created in a Wuhan lab. Soon after, President Trump began espousing similar theories.[37] One researcher was quoted saying that “Whenever a conspiracy theory or falsehood is circulating on social media, you can usually track it to a QAnon figure playing a role in spreading it.”[38] For example, QAnon Facebook groups played a large role in spreading the documentary film “Plandemic,” which included many false claims about COVID research[39] The COVID-19 pandemic also helped internationalize the QAnon Movement.[40]

During the summer of 2020, major social media groups came under criticism for their algorithms that directed people towards QAnon and other extremist content. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Youtube cracked down on QAnon content, along with other misinforming and extremist content.[41] Several sites have reported reductions in QAnon and “hateful content” since then.[42]

On August 22, 2020, QAnon supporters organized approximately 200 “Save the Children” rallies in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They coordinated with each online using the hashtags #savethechildren and #saveourchildren to evade social media’s QAnon bans and draw attention to the false notion of a child sex ring.[43]

Many QAnon followers were shocked at President Trump’s defeat in the 2020 Presidential Election and claims of election fraud became central to the QAnon ideology. The prominent “Dominion Theory” — that voting systems software employees switched votes from Trump to Biden — was first tweeted by Ron Watkins, and continued to be amplified by QAnon accounts until Donald Trump himself tweeted his support for the theory.[44]

On November 12, 2020, “Q” reappeared after many months of silence to proclaim, “nothing can stop what is coming.”[45] However, Q has not posted since December 8, 2020.[46]

Since the defeat of President Trump, the QAnon movement has gotten increasingly political, the trajectory of which is covered in the “Political Activities” section. One major online QAnon forum featured a quote by General Micheal Flynn, saying “Local action = national impact. Take responsibility for your school committees or boards. Get involved in the education of our children. Run for local, state and/or federal office.”[47]

On January 6, 2021 pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol Building, hoping to stop Congress from counting electoral college votes that would confirm Joe Biden’s win in the election.[48] 5 people died and at least 134 more were injured.[49] QAnon-related social media accounts are largely credited with promoting the “Stop the Steal” movement that inspired the attack, and over half of QAnon-related twitter accounts tweeted about January 6th in the days leading up to it. While difficult to measure, it is estimated that many participants were QAnon adherents[50]

A second round of QAnon social media bans followed the events on January 6th. In preparation, many QAnon content creators had begun directing their followers to Telegram, a messaging service that is almost entirely unregulated.[51] The QAnon following on Telegram saw particular growth on the day of President Biden’s inauguration.[52] From January to July 2021, one study found a decrease in QAnon activity on Telegram, although active communities remained.[53] In particular, the user GhostEzra has combined QAnon theorizing with Naziism, and has amassed a following larger than any other QAnon Telegram groups, or other Nazi groups.[54]

In November 2021, several hundred QAnon followers gathered in a square in Dallas, Texas with the hopes that John F. Kennedy Jr (who died in 1999[55]) would appear.[56] The group was led by anti-semestic Telegram leader Micheal Protzman, and up to two dozen followers stayed in Dallas for over two months, sometimes abandoning families to do so. There are concerns that Protzman is exhibiting behaviors often seen in cult leaders.[57]

In January 2022, Canadian truckers organized a sustained convoy to protest vaccine mandates in their profession. The movement was organized primarily by people who had become radicalized online to believe in QAnon conspiracies, including that the COVID-19 virus was created by the cabal.[58]

Many candidates who have displayed support for QAnon are running for U.S. and State Congress in the 2022 elections, including Ron Watkins, who is suspected to be behind Q.[59] There is also an organized movement in QAnon circles to be elected to the state Secretary of State position, in order to gain power over state election proceedings.[60]

 

[1]Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

[2] Dey, Sneha. “Threats for QAnon conspiracists force butterfly sanctuary to close.” UPI. 3 February 2022. https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/02/03/butterfly-sanctuary-QAnon-con...

[3] Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

[4] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022.; “The Making of QAnon: A Crowdsourced Conspiracy.” Bellingcat. 7 January 2021. https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2021/01/07/the-making-of-qanon-a-crowdsourced-conspiracy/

[5] “The Making of QAnon: A Crowdsourced Conspiracy.” Bellingcat. 7 January 2021. https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2021/01/07/the-making-of-qanon-a-crowdsourced-conspiracy/

[6] Martineau, ​​Paris. “The Storm is the New Pizzagate: only worse.” New York Times Magazine. December 2017. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/12/qanon-4chan-the-storm-conspiracy-explained.html

[7] Coaston, Jane. “QAnon, the scarily popular conspiracy theory explained.” Vox. Updated August 21, 2020. Web. 13 April 2022. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/8/1/17253444/qanon-trump-conspiracy-theory-4chan-explainer; Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

“Trump: This represents the calm before the storm.” CNN. 2017. https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/10/05/donald-trump-calm-before-the-storm-commanders-sot.cnn

[8] Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius; Menn, Joseph. “QAnon received earlier boost from Russian accounts on Twitter, archives show.” Reuters. 2 November 2020. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-qanon-cyber/qanon-receiv...

[9] Martineau, ​​Paris. “The Storm is the New Pizzagate: only worse.” New York Times Magazine. December 2017. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/12/qanon-4chan-the-storm-conspiracy-explained.html

[10] Martineau, ​​Paris. “The Storm is the New Pizzagate: only worse.” New York Times Magazine. December 2017. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/12/qanon-4chan-the-storm-conspiracy-explained.html

[12] Coaston, Jane. “QAnon, the scarily popular conspiracy theory explained.” Vox. Updated August 21, 2020. Web. 13 April 2022. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/8/1/17253444/qanon-trump-conspiracy-theory-4chan-explainer

[13] Martineau, ​​Paris. “The Storm is the New Pizzagate: only worse.” New York Times Magazine. December 2017. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/12/qanon-4chan-the-storm-conspiracy-explained.html; Sommer, Will. “What is Qanon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained.” The Daily Beast. 20 March 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-is-qanon-the-craziest-theory-of-the-trump-era-explained

[14] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 2, “Do You Believe in Coincidences?” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[15] Menn, Joseph. “QAnon received earlier boost from Russian accounts on Twitter, archives show.” Reuters. 2 November 2020. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-qanon-cyber/qanon-receiv...

[16] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022.

[17] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022.

Menn, Joseph. “QAnon received earlier boost from Russian accounts on Twitter, archives show.” Reuters. 2 November 2020. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-qanon-cyber/qanon-receiv...

[18] Menn, Joseph. “QAnon received earlier boost from Russian accounts on Twitter, archives show.” Reuters. 2 November 2020. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-qanon-cyber/qanon-receiv...

[19] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to...

 Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “The Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[20] Martineau, ​​Paris. “The Storm is the New Pizzagate: only worse.” New York Times Magazine. December 2017. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/12/qanon-4chan-the-storm-conspiracy-explained.html

[21] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to...

[22] Gault, Matthew. “QAnon Hysteria Shows that the world learned nothing from 2016.” VICE News. 9 August 2018. https://www.vice.com/en/article/mb4x9n/qanon-hysteria-shows-that-the-world-learned-nothing-from-2016; Lawrence, David and Gregory Davis. “QAnon in the UK: The Growth of a Movement.” Hope Not Hate. October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/qanon-report-2020-10-FINAL.pdf

[23] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to...Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “The Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[24] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to...

[25] Will Sommer. Daily Beast Reporter. 2018. https://twitter.com/willsommer/status/982606808404684800

[26] Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

[27] Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

[28] Carter, Brandon. “What is QAnon: The Conspiracy Theory Tiptoeing into Trump World.” NPR. 2 August 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/08/02/634749387/what-is-qanon-the-conspiracy-theory-tiptoeing-into-trump-world

[29]  Q: Into the Storm, Episode 3, “Disinformation is Real” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[31]  Q: Into the Storm, Episode 4, “Panic in D.C.” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films; Palmer, Ewan.“Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Shares QAnon Posts Prior To Ghislaine Maxwell’s Deposition Unsealing.” Newsweek. 23 October 2020.

[32] Bajak, Frank. “Online providers knock 8chan offline after mass shooting.” AP News.  5 August 2019. https://apnews.com/article/us-news-ap-top-news-social-platforms-internat...

[33] Glaser, April. “Where 8channers went after 8chan.” Slate. 11 November 2019. https://slate.com/technology/2019/11/8chan-8kun-white-supremacists-teleg...

[34] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 5, “Game Over” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[35] Lawrence, David and Gregory Davis. “QAnon in the UK: The Growth of a Movement.” Hope Not Hate. October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/qanon-report-2020-10-FINAL.pdf

[36] Collins, Ben. “How QAnon rode the pandemic to new heights — and fueled the viral anti-mask phenomenon.” NBC News. 14 August 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-qanon-rode-pandemic-new-heigh...

[37] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 6, “The Storm.” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[38] Copok, Jesselyn. “QAnon’s Coronavirus-Fueled Boom is a Warning of What’s To Come” Huffington Post.29 June 2020.  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/qanon-coronavirus-disinformation_n_5eea61...

[39] Copok, Jesselyn. “QAnon’s Coronavirus-Fueled Boom is a Warning of What’s To Come” Huffington Post.29 June 2020.  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/qanon-coronavirus-disinformation_n_5eea61...

[40] Lawrence, David and Gregory Davis. “QAnon in the UK: The Growth of a Movement.” Hope Not Hate. October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/qanon-report-2020-10-FINAL.pdf; Rauhala, Emily and Loveday Morris. “In the United States, QAnon is Struggling. The conspiracy is thriving abroad.” Washington Post. 13 November 2020. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/qanon-conspiracy-global-reach/2020/11/12/ca312138-13a5-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html

[41] Ortutay, Barbara. “Youtube Follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon Crackdown.” ABC News. 18 October 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/youtube-twitter-facebook-qanon-crackdown-73637770; Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00....

[42] Ortutay, Barbara. “QAnon has receded from social media — but it’s just hiding.” Associated Press. 9 July 2021. Web. 21 March 2022. https://nz.finance.yahoo.com/news/qanon-receded-social-media-just-041515152.html Wilson, Jonathan. “Reddit crackdown on 7,000 hate pages, as Facebook boots out QAnon ‘extremists.’” The IET. 21 August 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2020/08/reddit-crackdown-on-7-...

[43] Lawrence, David and Gregory Davis. “QAnon in the UK: The Growth of a Movement.” Hope Not Hate. October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/qanon-report-2020-10-FINAL.pdf Dickson, EJ. “Q is Back, but does QAnon have a future?” Rolling Stone Magazine. 13 November 2020. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/qanon-ron-watkins-8kun-trump-election-1090151/

[44] Greenspan, Rachel E. “QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Misinformation Fueled Capitol Riots.” Insider. 7 January 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.insider.com/capitol-riots-qanon-protest-conspiracy-theory-wa...

[45] Dickson, EJ. “Q is Back, but does QAnon have a future?” Rolling Stone Magazine. 13 November 2020. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/qanon-ron-watkins-8kun-trump-election-1090151/

[46] Gonzales, Oscar. “QAnon FAQ: It’s Been a Year since Q’s Last Drop, But People Still Believe.” CNET. 22 November 2021. https://www.cnet.com/culture/qanon-faq-its-been-a-year-since-qs-last-dro...

[47]  Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-....

[48] Barret, Ted and Manu Raju “4 dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win.” CNN. 7 January 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html

[49] Speare-Cole, Rebecca. “134 Police Officers Assaulted in Capitol Riots, Justice Department Says.”Newsweek. 25 January 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/134-police-officers-injured-capitol-riots-court...

[50] Greenspan, Rachel E. “QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Misinformation Fueled Capitol Riots.” Insider. 7 January 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.insider.com/capitol-riots-qanon-protest-conspiracy-theory-wa...

[51] “QAnon’s Anti-Semetism and what comes next” The Anti-Defamation League. https://www.adl.org/resources/reports/qanons-antisemitism-and-what-comes...

[52] Dickson, EJ. “The QAnon Community Is In Crisis — But On Telegram, It's Also Growing.” RollingStone.  22 January 2021. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/qanon-telegram-channel...

[53] Wildon, Jordan and Marc-André Argentino. “QAnon is not Dead: New Research into Telegram Shows the Movement is Alive and Well.” Global Network on Extremism and Technology. 28 July 2021. https://gnet-research.org/2021/07/28/qanon-is-not-dead-new-research-into...

[54] “QAnon’s Anti-Semetism and what comes next” The Anti-Defamation League.

https://www.adl.org/resources/reports/qanons-antisemitism-and-what-comes...

[55]Allen, Mike. “Bodies From Kennedy Crash are Found.” The New York Times. 22 July 1999. https://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/22/us/bodies-from-kennedy-crash-are-foun...

[56] Gilbert, David. “The Dallas QAnon Cult Believes JFK Was Disguised as Trump at Arizona Rally.” Vice. 17 January 2022. https://www.vice.com/en/article/n7n37k/qanon-cult-trump-jfk-arizona

[57] Monacelli, Steven.“The Fringe QAnon ‘Cult’ Is Still Waiting for a JFK Jr. Miracle in Dallas.” The Rolling Stone.1 December 2021. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/qanon-dallas-conspiracy-theorist-jfk-still-there-1264953/ Gilbert, David. “The Dallas QAnon Cult Believes JFK Was Disguised as Trump at Arizona Rally.” Vice. 17 January 2022. https://www.vice.com/en/article/n7n37k/qanon-cult-trump-jfk-arizona

[58] Ling, Justin. “MPs Told to Hide from Anti-Vaxxer Parliament Security Chief.” Vice. 28 January 2022. https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvnd34/mps-told-to-hide-from-anti-vaxxer...

[59] Villarreal, Daniel. “Ron Watkins, Alleged QAnon Founder, Announces Run for Congress.” Newsweek. 15 October 2021. Web. 29 https://www.newsweek.com/ron-watkins-alleged-qanon-founder-announces-run-congress-1639568 Zitser, Joshua and Sophia Ankel. “A Trump-loving insurrectionist and a convicted stalker are among 36 QAnon supporters running for Congress in 2022.” Business Insider. 27 June 2021. https://www.businessinsider.com/the-36-qanon-supporters-running-congress...

[60] Pilkington, Ed. “‘We have a project’: QAnon followers eye swing state election official races.” The Guardian. 11 February 2022. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/11/qanon-donald-trump-big-lie-elections-swing-states

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations
Leadership
  • Leadership
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations

Leadership

As QAnon has no concrete structure, defining “leadership” is nebulous at best. This is particularly true since the poster who is at the center of the ideology, “Q,” is anonymous. This section will outline the various theories of who “Q” might be, and then go on to identify significant amplifiers and facilitators that allowed the ideology to spread.

Identity of Q:

The most popular type of theory about Q’s identity among followers is that one individual with insider intelligence and proximity to Donald Trump has been posting the entire time[1]. Under this umbrella, there are people who believe Q is an unknown high ranking military officer, (supported by the idea at “Q” is a level of security clearance,[2]) people who believe it is Donald Trump himself, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and other high-level Trump aides and advisors. Others believe that John F. Kennedy Jr. is secretly still alive and posing as Q. While originally a fringe belief, it has gained traction since Trump left office.[3]

Others believe that Q is a collective of military and political insiders who share access to a password protected tripcode (a type of online signature that lets other internet users know that the same user is posting).

However, some believe that in 2018, the original Q stopped posting and another user took over. This idea was promoted by Paul Furber, the 8chan moderator whose page Q primarily posted on up to that point, and he claimed that Q had been “hijacked”[4]. Most QAnon followers disregarded his warning, and Q began posting on Coleman Roger’s 8chan page instead. [5]

However, expert linguistic analyses have recently supported Paul Furber’s theory. They provide evidence that Paul Furber himself was the original Q, followed by a period of collaboration between him and 8chan moderator Ron Watkins, and then finally a complete takeover by Ron Watkins in 2018, around the time Furber was claiming that Q had been hijacked[6]. The investigative HBO documentary Q: Into the Storm also provides circumstantial evidence for Paul Furber and Ron Watkins writing the Q messages[7]. Both men have denied ever writing as Q.[8]

Significant Amplifiers:

Various internet users besides Q have contributed to the popularity of QAnon, by sharing messages with their follower base, and often interpreting Q’s cryptic messages. Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of some of the most popular and influential online promoters of QAnon. Several are well known by their screen names, and if so both are included.

Paul Furber (Screenname BaruchTheScribe): Along with Coleman Rogers, Furber was one of the first two posters on 4chan to discuss Q following the original Q post in 2017, and set up the CBTS_Stream Reddit forum with Diaz and Rogers. Furber’s 8chan page hosted “Q” from November 2017, when Q initially moved from 4chan to 8chan, until January 2018, when Furber claimed that Q had been “compromised” and banned tripcodes on his page. Within a few days, Q posts began appearing on Coleman Rogers’ page instead. Recent linguistic analysis has provided evidence that Furber likely wrote many of the Q posts up until early 2018.[9]

Coleman Rogers (Screenname - PamphletAnon): Along with Paul Furber, Rogers was one of the first two posters on 4chan to discuss Q following the original Q post in 2017.[10] He also set up a Reddit forum known as “CBTS_Stream” (“Calm Before the Storm Stream”) with Diaz and Furber. Rogers and his wife Christina Urso ran the earliest and most successful QAnon chatroom, and later launched a 24 hour livestream Youtube channel entirely focused on discussing QAnon, often with guests, called “Patriot’s Soapbox.” Both of these platforms solicited donations from users, and Urso registered Patriot’s Soapbox as an LLC in Virginia.[11] They remained anonymous until a 2018 NBC article shared their real names. In January 2018, after the controversy over the Q tripcode, Q posts appeared on Rogers’ 8chan page until finally switching over to its own page in August. The Patriot’s Soapbox website was still active as of March 20, 2022.[12]

Tracy Diaz (also known as Beanz): Shortly after the first Q post in 2017, Paul Furber and Coleman Rogers reached out to Tracy Diaz, a small-time Youtube star who had promoted pizzagate, to help spread the word about QAnon[13]. She posted the first Youtube video mentioning “Q,” and was an early moderator of the QAnon Reddit message board. Diaz has admitted that covering Q gave her a massive audience, and gained substantial popularity on Youtube, as well as her podcast Dark to Light. Researchers have found evidence that Russian bots played a role in amplifying Diaz, beginning in April 2017 and increasing significantly after her first Q video. By 2018, she was relying entirely on patrons as her source of income. In April 2021, Diaz won an elected position on South Carolina’s GOP executive committee in Horry County, receiving 188 votes. Despite Youtube’s crackdown on QAnon content, on March 8, 2022 her Youtube page listed 131k subscribers and 11,149,493 views, with videos mostly covering COVID-19 conspiracies and other right-wing theories.[14]

Jerome Corsi: A prominent conspiracy theorist and editor of “InfoWars” whose interest in QAnon was instrumental in spreading it to the more mainstream right-wing media. He has wavered in his support for QAnon, following popular opinion.[15]

Liz Crokin: Crokin is a former tabloid journalist turned Youtube conspiracy theorist who has used her educational background to help make QAnon appealing to a broader audience. She was an early proponent of the theory that John F Kennedy Jr faked his death and is the individual behind Q, and she focuses heavily on accusing celebrities and politicians of sex crimes. In January 2019, Crokin said that she might leave the QAnon movement if the promised arrests didn’t happen soon, but on March 18, 2022 her Telegram page was still filled with posts about core QAnon ideas.[16]

Lin Wood: Wood is now part of the post-Trump QAnon movement, and has relied heavily on promoting conspiracies that the 2020 election was fraudulent, along with other theories that pervade despite the absence of new “Q” posts. As of March 2021, Wood had the largest Telegram following of any QAnon figure, with 830,000 followers. In November 2021, in a seemingly self-contradicting post that confused many of his followers, he accused his longtime friend Micheal Flynn and the entire QAnon movement of being a part of a deep state plot meant to “discredit Q and the anons.” However he maintained that he still believed in “the principles of Q,” as well as the integrity of the anons, and that the election truly had been stolen. Wood was formerly the attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, on trial for killing two people and wounding a third at a protest in Wisconsin, before Rittenhouse fired him. Rittenhouse has since called Wood “insane,” and received backlash from the QAnon community for his statements.[17]

Ron Watkins: Watkins’ father owns 8chan/8kun, and Ron Watkins acted as the administrator of 8chan/8kun from 2016 until his resignation on Election Day 2020. He is also known online as “Codemonkey.” It has long been speculated on the internet that Watkins is the user behind Q, and recent linguistic analysis has provided evidence that Ron Watkins has likely written many Q posts.[18] In 2021, Ron Watkins formally stated he’s stepping away from the movement, but continues to spread the conspiracy that the 2020 election was stolen. He will run for Arizona’s district 2 seat in the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections, challenging an incumbent Democrat.[19]

 

[1] LaFrance, A. “The Prophecies of Q." The Atlantic. 14 May 2020. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/qanon-nothing-can-s...

[2] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “The Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[3] Dickson, EJ and Steven Monacelli. “On the Ground With the QAnon Believers Who Flocked to Dallas for the Grand Return of JFK Jr.” RollingStone. 2 November 2021. Web. 20 March 2022. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/qanon-kennedy-jfk-jr-d...

[4] Kirkpatrick, David D. 2022. “Who Is behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints.” The New York Times, 19 February 2022, sec. Web. 3 March 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/technology/qanon-messages-authors.html.

[5] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “The Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[6] Kirkpatrick, David D. 2022. “Who Is behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints.” The New York Times, 19 February 2022, sec. Web. 3 March 2022.

[7] Q: Into the Storm, Episodes 1-6, directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[8] Kirkpatrick, David D. 2022. “Who Is behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints.” The New York Times, 19 February 2022, sec. Web. 3 March 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/technology/qanon-messages-authors.html.

[9] Kirkpatrick, David D. 2022. “Who Is behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints.” The New York Times, 19 February 2022, sec. Web. 3 March 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/technology/qanon-messages-authors.html; Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films; Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00....

[10] Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00....

[11] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to....

[12] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to... Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[13] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022.

[14] Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-... Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to... Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00... Menn, Joseph. “QAnon received earlier boost from Russian accounts on Twitter, archives show.” Reuters. 2 November 2020. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-qanon-cyber/qanon-receiv...

[15]Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to....

[16] Kyle Mantyla. “Liz Crokin Says She’ll ‘Have to Bow Out’ of QAnon Movement if ‘Mass Arrests Don’t Happen This Year.’” Right Wing Watch. 30 January 2019. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/liz-crokin-says-shell-have-to-bow-out-of-qanon-movement-if-mass-arrests-dont-happen-this-year/; Kyle Mantyla. “Liz Crokin: John F. Kennedy Faked His Death And Is Now QAnon.” Right Wing Watch. 1 August 2018. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/liz-crokin-john-f-kennedy-jr-faked-his-death-and-is-now-qanon/

Emma McClatchey. “How UI grad Liz Crokin became on of QAnon’s biggest influencers.” Little Village. 4 May 2021. Web. 18 March 2022. https://littlevillagemag.com/qanon-influencer-ui-alum-liz-crokin/

[17] David Gilbert. “Pro-Trump Lawyer Lin Wood is the New King of QAnon.” Vice News. 15 March 2021. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.vice.com/en/article/3angbk/pro-trump-lawyer-lin-wood-is-the-new-king-of-qanon

Mary Papenfuss. “Now Trump Backer Lin Wood Says It’s ‘Likely’ QAnon is a ‘Deep State Operation.’” Huffpost, 3 December 2021. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lin-wood-qanon-deep-state-michael-flynn_n...

[18] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films; Kirkpatrick, David D. 2022. “Who Is behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints.” The New York Times, 19 February 2022, sec. Web. 3 March 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/technology/qanon-messages-authors.html; Vanapalli, Viswa. “Where are Jim and Ron Watkins Now?” TheCinemaholic. 20 March 2021. Web. 18 March 2022. https://thecinemaholic.com/where-are-jim-and-ron-watkins-now/

[19] Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00e16f0818; Villarreal, Daniel. “Ron Watkins, Alleged QAnon Founder, Announces Run for Congress.” Newsweek. 15 October 2021. Web. 29 https://www.newsweek.com/ron-watkins-alleged-qanon-founder-announces-run... Thalen, Mikael. “QAnon guru Ron Watkins says he’s officially on the ballot for Congress — but his chances remain slim.” 22 March 2022. Web. 29 March 2022. https://www.dailydot.com/debug/ron-watkins-arizona-congress-ballot/

Name Changes

Since the movement’s fracturing following Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, many people have tried to distance themselves from the QAnon label while still promoting the core conspiracies. Users on message boards actively discourage each other from using the term “QAnon.” As of Spring 2022, no alternative title has emerged, and it seems to be signaling a decentralization rather than a shift from one title to another.[1]

 

[1] Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-....

Size Estimates

As QAnon has no official membership or groupings, size estimates will focus on trying to ascertain the size of its influence. This will include both the size of its social media following, and its ideological spread throughout the U.S. population.

Social Media Following:

Most large social media sites have taken measures to shut down QAnon promoters, making it difficult to accurately measure their following. . In August 2020, before the crackdown, 170 QAnon Facebook groups had approximately 4.5 million followers.[1]

In July 2020, Twitter took down 7,000 accounts and limited the circulation of QAnon content, expected to impact about 150,000 accounts. This provides a general estimate of QAnon Twitter activity at the time, although there are no publicly available size estimates of the followers of these accounts.[2]

There are no publicly available aggregate size estimates for the QAnon Youtube following. However, YouTube claimed to have removed tens of thousands of QAnon related videos and hundreds of channels even before their more extensive 2020 crackdown.[3]

While there is no publicly available aggregate estimate, individual QAnon-related Telegram users have amassed followings numbering in the hundreds of thousands.[4]

Ideological Spread:

In a broader approach to measuring QAnon influence, the non-profit Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) conducted surveys asking about core QAnon beliefs, and "created a composite measure,” dividing people into three groups - QAnon believers, QAnon doubters, and QAnon rejecters. In 2021, “16% of Americans were QAnon believers, 48% were QAnon doubters, and 34% were rejecters.” The number of QAnon believers increased slightly through 2021.[5]

Many people who believe in QAnon theories may not even recognize that they originated from QAnon. Through social media and word of mouth, these ideas have spread beyond people actively involved in QAnon forums.[6]

 

[1] Shirin and Ghaffary. “Facebook and Twitter said they would crack down on QAnon, but the delusion seems unstoppable.” Vox. 6 October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.vox.com/recode/21499485/qanon-facebook-twitter-bans-republican-politics

[2] Olson, Scott. “Twitter bans 7,000 QAnon accounts, limits 150,000 other as part of broad crackdown.” NBC News. 21 July 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/twitter-bans-7-000-qanon-accounts-limits-150-000-others-n1234541

[3] Ortutay, Barbara. “Youtube Follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon Crackdown.” ABC News. 18 October 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/youtube-twitter-facebook-qanon-crackdown-73637770

[4] Palmer, Ewan. “QAnon Telegram Account Is ‘World’s Largest Antisemetic Online Channel.’” Newsweek. 26 May 2021. Web. 20 March 2022. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/qanon-telegram-account-is-world-s-largest-antisemitic-online-channel/ar-AAKoDMT; Dickson, EJ. “The QAnon Community Is In Crisis — But On Telegram, It's Also Growing.” RollingStone.  22 January 2021. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/qanon-telegram-channel...

[5] PRRI Staff. “The Persistence of QAnon in the Post-Trump Era: An Analysis of Who Believes in Conspiracies.” 24 February 2022. Web. 3 March 2022. https://www.prri.org/research/the-persistence-of-qanon-in-the-post-trump-era-an-analysis-of-who-believes-the-conspiracies/

[6] “QAnon’s Anti-Semetism and what comes next” The Anti-Defamation League. https://www.adl.org/resources/reports/qanons-antisemitism-and-what-comes...

Resources

Being an internet-based movement, QAnon's most valuable resources have been the platforms that allowed it to spread. Discussions of the size of QAnon social media following can be found in the “Size Estimates” section.

8chan/8kun:

The first Q post in 2017 appeared on 4chan, an internet message board known for hosting extreme content. However, the user quickly shifted over to 8chan, the even more unregulated version of 4chan, after claiming the 4chan board had been infiltrated without identifying who by.[1] On both sites, Q had a tripcode — a scrambled version of a password — that confirmed their identity to other users while remaining anonymous. After the 2018 controversy over whether Q’s identity had been compromised, Q began using a new type of secure tripcode that only worked on 8chan, tying Q directly to the site where it remained until the site was shut down in August 2019.

Two companies that provided web infrastructure for 8chan cut off services, citing the fact that multiple mass shooters had posted their manifestos on the site.[2] Additionally, Frederick Brennan, the site’s founder who had stopped being involved with its administration, began campaigning for 8chan to be shut down, and may have facilitated certain companies pulling their services from 8chan. After 3 months, the owners were finally able to find new web infrastructure providers, and launched 8kun, where Q immediately returned to posting.[3] While 8chan had a broad user base, QAnon forums now make up the vast majority of 8kun’s site traffic. 8kun can only be reliably accessed through the dark web. The name change was instated to appease Frederick Brennan, who no longer wanted the site to be associated with him. Q continued posting on 8kun until their final post in December 2020.[4]

QAnon “research” boards on 8chan/8kun developed a hierarchical structure. Whenever Q posted, users would look for clues in the usually vague post that indicated its “real” meaning, posting their theories on the board. They also searched for “QProofs,” which are predictions or incidents that adherents believe prove Q’s legitimacy (explained further in “Targets and Tactics”). Specialized board moderators called “bakers” would sift through people’s ideas and choose the most promising ones to highlight. Often, Q would incorporate these highlighted theories into future posts.

Other Media Sites:

Most people have never accessed QAnon content through 8chan or its successor, 8kun. While the sites provided a platform for “Q,” the vast majority of QAnon content proliferates on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, and Telegram, among others.[5] In 2020, and NBC article described Facebook as the “largest piece of QAnon infrastructure,”[6] and ABC News described Youtube as “a primary site for the spread of QAnon.”[7] This fits within a larger pattern of major media sites leading to radicalization.[8]

In 2020, major media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Youtube cracked down on QAnon content, along with other misinforming and extremist content.[9] Several sites have reported reductions in QAnon and “hateful content” since then.[10] However, QAnon proponents still found ways to promote conspiracy theories despite the crackdowns. On YouTube, channels alter the sound or structure of their videos in order to evade notice by the YouTube algorithms, or even deleting their own videos after a week to avoid being taken down forcibly.[11]

Some QAnon influencers run their own websites. One example is Patriot’s Soapbox, which still requests a donation when a user visits their page as of March 2022. Many influencers also built a following on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service that gained popularity after the crackdowns, due to it being largely unregulated.[12] An iPhone application available for download from the Apple Store as “QDrops” was one of the most popular downloads before its removal in July 2018.[13]

Funding:

Many content creators solicit donations from their followers through various funding platforms or make money from ads on videos.[14] In 2020 Patreon, one of the most popular sites for financially supporting content creators, banned creators who were “engaged in spreading QAnon-supporting disinformation.”[15] However many other companies continue to provide a platform for donations.[16]

 

[1] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to....

[2] Bajak, Frank. “Online providers knock 8chan offline after mass shooting.” AP News.  5 August 2019. https://apnews.com/article/us-news-ap-top-news-social-platforms-internat...

[3] Glaser, April. “Where 8channers went after 8chan.” Slate. 11 November 2019. https://slate.com/technology/2019/11/8chan-8kun-white-supremacists-teleg...

[4]Q: Into the Storm, Episodes 1-6, directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[5] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/how-three-conspiracy-theorists-to... Q: Into the Storm, Episodes 1-6, directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[6] Sen, Ari and Brandy Zadrozny. “QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show.” NBC News. 10 August 2020. Web. 20 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanon-groups-have-millions-members-facebook-documents-show-n1236317

[7] Ortutay, Barbara. “Youtube Follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon Crackdown.” ABC News. 18 October 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/youtube-twitter-facebook-qanon-crackdown-73637770

[8] Shead, Sam. “YouTube radicalized the Christchurch shooter, New Zealand report concludes.” CNBC. 8 December 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/08/youtube-radicalized-christchurch-shooter...

[9] Ortutay, Barbara. “Youtube Follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon Crackdown.” ABC News. 18 October 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/youtube-twitter-facebook-qanon-crackdown-73637770; Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00....

[10] Ortutay, Barbara. “QAnon has receded from social media — but it’s just hiding.” Associated Press. 9 July 2021. Web. 21 March 2022. https://nz.finance.yahoo.com/news/qanon-receded-social-media-just-041515152.html; Wilson, Jonathan. “Reddit crackdown on 7,000 hate pages, as Facebook boots out QAnon ‘extremists.’” The IET. 21 August 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2020/08/reddit-crackdown-on-7-...

[11] Nieva, Richard. “QAnon channels deleter their own YouTube videos to evade punishment.” CNET. 13 May 2021. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.cnet.com/news/politics/features/qanon-channels-are-deleting-...

[12] Palmer, Ewan. “QAnon Telegram Account Is ‘World’s Largest Antisemetic Online Channel.’” Newsweek. 26 May 2021. Web. 20 March 2022. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/qanon-telegram-account-is-world-s-largest-antisemitic-online-channel/ar-AAKoDMT; “QAnon’s Anti-Semetism and what comes next” The Anti-Defamation League. https://www.adl.org/resources/reports/qanons-antisemitism-and-what-comes... Dickson, EJ. “The QAnon Community Is In Crisis — But On Telegram, It's Also Growing.” RollingStone.  22 January 2021. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/qanon-telegram-channel...

[13] Collins, Ben and Brandy Zadrozny. “Apple, Google cashed in on Pizzagate-offshoot conspiracy app.” NBC News. 16 July 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/exclusive-apple-google-cashed-pizzagate-offshoot-conspiracy-app-n891726

[14] Nieva, Richard. “QAnon channels deleter their own YouTube videos to evade punishment.” CNET. 13 May 2021. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.cnet.com/news/politics/features/qanon-channels-are-deleting-their-own-youtube-videos-to-evade-punishment/; Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[15] Patreon HQ. “An Update to Patreon’s Policies on QAnon.” Patreon Blog. 22 October 2022. Web. 21 March 2022. https://blog.patreon.com/update-to-patreons-policies-qanon

[16]Little, Olivia. “After Patreon's Ban, QAnon creators are using these platforms to make money.” Media Matters. 24 October 2020. Web. 21 March 2022. https://www.mediamatters.org/qanon-conspiracy-theory/after-patreons-ban-...

Geographic Locations

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

The QAnon conspiracy theories focus on U.S. politics, and the vast majority of its following is within the U.S. However, some European far right groups discussed or amplified QAnon theories, particularly in Germany. Online forums for QAnon believers in New Zealand, the UK, and other countries gained substantial followings, one German-language QAnon channel reached 125,000 subscribers before Youtube took it down in 2020. Additionally, 8chan administration and offices were based in the Philippines during the time that Q was actively posting on the forum.[1]

 

[1] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films; Rauhala, Emily and Loveday Morris. “In the United States, QAnon is Struggling. The conspiracy is thriving abroad.” Washington Post. 13 November 2020. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/qanon-conspiracy-global-reach/2020/11/12/ca312138-13a5-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets and Tactics
Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

QAnon ideology is not well defined and has continued to evolve since its inception in 2017. It is based on the idea that an anonymous poster, who signs their posts as “Q,” works from inside the US government to expose and arrest a cabal of global elites known as the “Deep State” who control Hollywood and the government. Often, this cabal is said to sex traffic children, engage in Satanic rituals involving cannibalism of children, and harvest “adrenochrome,” a chemical found in human blood that they believe has hallucinogenic and youth-rejuvenating properties. There is no evidence that adrenochrome does either of these things. The presidency of Donald Trump, who they believe is an “outsider” with special intelligence on these elites, was meant to be critical to dismantling the Deep State.[1] QAnon adherents believe that the 2020 Presidential Election was fraudulent, specifically that Dominion Voting Systems switched votes from Trump to Biden. They also commonly believe that COVID-19 was artificially created to control the population, and/or sabotage Donald Trump.[2]

QAnon has evolved into what experts call a “big tent theory,” containing many different conspiracy theories under one general idea.[3] Since Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, the QAnon movement continues to fracture[4], and belief in QAnon continues to increase.

Some more fringe ideologies that have developed in QAnon circles of the internet include that Child Protective Services are stealing children to harvest their adrenochrome,[5] that recent mass shootings were staged in order to attack gun rights, that John F. Kennedy Jr faked his death, and that much of the global elite are actually lizard people who want to control the human race.[6] Additionally, 31% of QAnon believers reported an unfavorable view of Trump, which appears contrary to the ideology of the movement. QAnon has always had anti-Semitic undertones, but in 2021 Telegram user GhostEzra became particularly notorious for radicalizing QAnon followers towards Naziism and Holocaust denial, possibly being the largest anti-Semitic online channel or forum in the world.[7] However, it is difficult to distinguish what portion of the following are Nazis trying to infiltrate QAnon circles, and how much are QAnon adherents who have been further radicalized.[8]

 

[1]LaFrance, A. “The Prophecies of Q." The Atlantic. 14 May 2020. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/qanon-nothing-can-s... Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[2] Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00...

[3] Greenspan, Rachel E. “QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Misinformation Fueled Capitol Riots.” Insider. 7 January 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.insider.com/capitol-riots-qanon-protest-conspiracy-theory-wa...

[4] Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-....

[5] Sommer, Will. “QAnon Promotes Pedo-Ring Conspiracy Theories. Now They’re Stealing Kids.” The Daily Beast. 16 August 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/qanon-promotes-pedo-ring-conspiracy-theories-now-theyre-stealing-kids

[6] Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00e16f0818; Kyle Mantyla. “Liz Crokin: John F. Kennedy Faked His Death And Is Now QAnon.” Right Wing Watch. 1 August 2018. Web. 18 March 2022. https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/liz-crokin-john-f-kennedy-jr-faked-his-death-and-is-now-qanon/

[7] “QAnon’s Anti-Semetism and what comes next” The Anti-Defamation League. https://www.adl.org/resources/reports/qanons-antisemitism-and-what-comes-next#banned-from-most-social-media-believers-migrate-to-telegram; Palmer, Ewan. “QAnon Telegram Account Is ‘World’s Largest Antisemetic Online Channel.’” Newsweek. 26 May 2021. Web. 20 March 2022. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/qanon-telegram-account-is-world-s-largest-antisemitic-online-channel/ar-AAKoDMT

Political Activities

The QAnon movement and its theories focus overwhelmingly on U.S. politics and maintain that Donald Trump’s presidency is a keystone event.[1] There have been QAnon political conferences[2] and protests[3], and QAnon was one of the primary inspirations for the January 6th takeover of the US Capitol Building[4]. While it began as an online spread of ideas, QAnon supporters have become increasingly involved in electoral politics, particularly since Trump lost the 2020 election[5]. Additionally, the language and ideas inspired by QAnon percolated into mainstream politics, particularly (although not solely) the Republican party.[6]

Political Ideology:

The prominent “Dominion Theory” — that voting systems software employees switched votes from Trump to Biden — was first tweeted by Ron Watkins and continued to be amplified by QAnon accounts until Donald Trump himself tweeted his support for the theory.[7]

The January 6th attack on the Capitol was largely inspired and promoted by QAnon adherents. Over half of all QAnon-related Twitter accounts tweeted about the insurrection in the days leading up to Jan 6th. Many participants believed the insurrection would bring about the long awaited “storm,” where Trump jailed (or executed, depending on the source) members of the “cabal.” [8]

In January 2022, Canadian truckers organized a sustained convoy to protest vaccine mandates in their profession. The movement was organized primarily by people who had become radicalized online to believe in QAnon conspiracies, including that the COVID-19 virus was created by the cabal.[9]

Some ideological effects of QAnon occur more subtly. Right wing politicians increasingly weaponize allusions to QAnon, such as baselessly claiming their opponents support pedophilia.[10] The QAnon following has become an important constituency for the Republican party, particularly considering PRRI’s finding that 25% of Republicans believe in QAnon’s core tenets as of 2021.[11]

U.S. and State Congressional Bodies:

Politicians’ engagements with QAnon range from extremely subtle, such as Senator Josh Hawley dropping QAnon dog whistles into his questioning of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson,[12] to blatantly supportive, such as Mark Finchem, a Representative in Arizona’s state legislature, speaking at the 2021 QAnon conference.[13] At which point along this range a candidate should be labeled a “QAnon candidate” is a subject of heated debate.

Estimates of “QAnon affiliated” candidates who ran for office (including state congresses) in 2020 have ranged from 24[14] to 90,[15] depending on what is considered an affiliation. The wins of Representatives Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene in 2020 gained notoriety, due to both their blatant support and relatively high-ranking positions.[16] Both have expressed support for QAnon in the past and continue to champion QAnon-coded causes, although Taylor-Greene has since stated that QAnon “does not represent” her values.[17]

For the 2022 elections, NYMag estimated 60 “Q sympathizers” running for Congress.[18] Notably, Ron Watkins is among them, running for a seat in the House of Representatives in Arizona’s second Congressional district.[19] His campaign website does not mention QAnon, but it does specifically address QAnon issues areas such as human trafficking and election integrity, and his merch proclaims support for “Codemonkey Z.”[20]

U.S. Supreme Court:

In 2022, leaked text messages revealed that Ginni Thomas, (the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), had been in contact with Mark Meadows (a Trump White House chief of staff) about watermarked ballots, the “Biden crime family,” and other ideas about election fraud that had originated in QAnon circles. She expressed commitment to overturning the 2020 election, which she believed was fraudulent, causing major concerns about her husband’s conflict of interest. Justice Thomas wrote a dissent to the court opinion to reject election challenges by the Trump administration, because he believed the court should provide states with guidance for future elections.[21]

State-Level Secretary of State:

In November 2020, prominent QAnon influencer with the alias Juan O Savin convinced Marchant to run for Nevada’s Secretary of State position instead of Congress, since the position would give him control over the election process. Together, Savin and Marchant have gathered a coalition of candidates with the goal of ensuring that they “get to the right result” in the 2024 election.[22]

As of February 3, 2022, there were 20 candidates running for Secretary of State who had openly doubted the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential Race. For all except two of these candidates (those running in Wisconsin and Illinois), this position would make them responsible for overseeing their state’s elections. A list of election-denying candidates can be found in the footnote.[23]

Jim Marchant, running for Secretary of State in Nevada, has said that if elected he would ban mail in voting, enact voter ID laws, get rid of electronic voting machines, and would be prepared to send alternate Trump electors to Congress contrary to actual election results.[24]

Local Positions:

While difficult to quantify, given the sheer number of school boards across the country as well as the vagueness in identifying a “QAnon candidate,” many localities have noticed an influx of QAnon-coded candidates for school board. They are often concerned with getting vaguely defined “critical race theory” out of schools and believe that mask mandates make it easier for human traffickers to target children[25]. The National Education Association issued a warning that “across the county (of Grand Blanc), conspiracy theorists and proponents of fake news are winning local elections.”[26]

QAnon adherents have not been restricted to the school board either. QAnon influencer Tracy Diaz won an elected position on South Carolina’s GOP executive committee in Horry County, receiving 188 votes, in April 2021.[27]  Other localities have seen mayors and city council members who support QAnon-coded beliefs.[28]

 

[1] LaFrance, A. “The Prophecies of Q." The Atlantic. 14 May 2020. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/qanon-nothing-can-s...

[2] Anglesey, Anders.“Full List of Republican Politicians Attending QAnon Convention in Las Vegas” Newsweek. 22 October 2021. Web. 29 March 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/republicans-attending-qanon-convention-las-vegas-nevada-1641562

[3]O’Sullivan, Donnie. “QAnon events: A CNN reporter went to two. Here’s what she found.” CNN. 19 October 2020. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/19/tech/qanon-events-cnn-reporter/index.html; Will Sommer. Daily Beast Reporter. 2018. https://twitter.com/willsommer/status/982606808404684800

[4] Greenspan, Rachel E. “QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Misinformation Fueled Capitol Riots.” Insider. 7 January 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.insider.com/capitol-riots-qanon-protest-conspiracy-theory-wa...

[5] Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-....

[6] Silverman, Jacob. “QAnon’s Takeover of the GOP Is Virtually Complete.” NYMag — Intelligencer. 26 March 2022. Web. 31 March 2022. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/03/qanons-takeover-of-the-gop-is-virtually-complete.html

[7] Greenspan, Rachel E. “QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Misinformation Fueled Capitol Riots.” Insider. 7 January 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.insider.com/capitol-riots-qanon-protest-conspiracy-theory-wa...

[8]  Greenspan, Rachel E. “QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Misinformation Fueled Capitol Riots.” Insider. 7 January 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.insider.com/capitol-riots-qanon-protest-conspiracy-theory-wa...

[9] Ling, Justin. “MPs Told to Hide from Anti-Vaxxer Parliament Security Chief.” Vice. 28 January 2022. https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvnd34/mps-told-to-hide-from-anti-vaxxer...

[10] Tiffany, Kaitlin. “The QAnon Dog Whistle at the SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings.” The Atlantic. 24 March 2022. Web. 31 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/03/supreme-court-jackson-josh-hawley/629359/; Silverman, Jacob. “QAnon’s Takeover of the GOP Is Virtually Complete.” NYMag — Intelligencer. 26 March 2022. Web. 31 March 2022.

[11] PRRI Staff. “The Persistence of QAnon in the Post-Trump Era: An Analysis of Who Believes in Conspiracies.” 24 February 2022. Web. 3 March 2022. https://www.prri.org/research/the-persistence-of-qanon-in-the-post-trump-era-an-analysis-of-who-believes-the-conspiracies/

[12] Tiffany, Kaitlin. “The QAnon Dog Whistle at the SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings.” The Atlantic. 24 March 2022. Web. 31 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/03/supreme-court-jackson-josh-hawley/629359/

[13]  Anglesey, Anders.“Full List of Republican Politicians Attending QAnon Convention in Las Vegas” Newsweek. 22 October 2021. Web. 29 March 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/republicans-attending-qanon-convention-las-vega...

[14] Steck, Em, Nathan McDermott, and Christopher Hickey. “The congressional candidates who have engaged with the QAnon conspiracy theory.” CNN. 30 October 2020. Web. 31 March 2022.

 https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/10/politics/qanon-cong-candidates/

[15] Hatewatch Staff. “What You Need To Know About QAnon.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 27 October 2020. Web. 30 March 2022. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/10/27/what-you-need-know-about-qanon

[16] Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00....

[17] Bowden, Ebony. “Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene ‘regrets’ believing QAnon conspiracy” New York Post. 4 February 2021. Web. 10 April 2022. https://nypost.com/2021/02/04/marjorie-taylor-greene-regrets-believing-qanon-conspiracy/

[18] Silverman, Jacob. “QAnon’s Takeover of the GOP Is Virtually Complete.” NYMag — Intelligencer. 26 March 2022. Web. 31 March 2022. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/03/qanons-takeover-of-the-gop-is-virtually-complete.html

[19] Villarreal, Daniel. “Ron Watkins, Alleged QAnon Founder, Announces Run for Congress.” Newsweek. 15 October 2021. Web. 29 https://www.newsweek.com/ron-watkins-alleged-qanon-founder-announces-run-congress-1639568

[21] Woodward, Bob and Robert Costa. “Virginia Thomas urged White House chief to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 election, texts show.”The Washington Post. 24 March 2022. Web. 10 April 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/24/virginia-thomas-mark-meadows-texts/; Silverman, Jacob. “QAnon’s Takeover of the GOP Is Virtually Complete.” NYMag — Intelligencer. 26 March 2022. Web. 31 March 2022. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/03/qanons-takeover-of-the-gop-is-virtually-complete.html

[22] Pilkington, Ed. “‘We have a project’: QAnon followers eye swing state election official races.” The Guardian. 11 February 2022. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/11/qanon-donald-trump-big-lie-elections-swing-states

[23] Parks, Miles. “Here’s where election-denying candidates are running to control voting” NPR. 3 February 2022. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/01/04/1069232219/heres-where-election-deniers-a...

[24] Pilkington, Ed. “‘We have a project’: QAnon followers eye swing state election official races.” The Guardian. 11 February 2022. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/11/qanon-donald-trump-big-lie-elections-swing-states; Pilkington, Ed. “‘Trump loyalists form alliance in bid to take over election process in key states.” The Guardian. 13 January 2022. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/13/trump-loyalists-secretary-of-state-candidates

[25] Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-....

[26] Flannery, Mary Ellen. “Is QAnon Radicalizing Your School Board?” National Education Association. 2 June 2021. Web. 10 April 2022. https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/qanon-radicalizing-your-school-board

[27] Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-....

[28] Bergengruen, Vera. “How QAnon Conspiracy Theorists Are Winning Local Elections. Can They Be Stopped?” Time. 16 April 2021. Web. 10 April 2022. https://time.com/5955248/qanon-local-elections/

Targets and Tactics

QAnon believers often target Democratic politicians, Hollywood stars, and left-leaning journalists, sometimes with death threats.[1] This is due to the belief that they are a part of the “deep state” or “cabal” that the QAnon conspiracy believes runs world affairs[2]. After Donald Trump’s electoral defeat in 2020, many QAnon adherents moved into politics, which is covered in the “Political Activities” section. The tactics discussed in this section are primarily concerned with how belief in the conspiracies take root and spread.

The QAnon movement uses certain linguistic and thematic strategies that create psychological appeal for the ideology. The “Q” theory likely gained support so quickly on 4chan both because it vindicated 4chan users as potential heroes in a story to take back the country from the “Deep State.” Users also liked that Q’s cryptic messages presented a mystery for internet sleuths to investigate.[3] The latter is cited to explain why “QAnon has been a hit with older Trump supporters, leading to tech-illiterate baby boomers looking to spread the QAnon gospel.”[4] Further, 4chan users applaud themselves on their sense of humor, trolling, and proclivity for trickery.[5] Even if the “Q” idea was not real, 4chan users enjoyed promoting it in order to trick others into believing it.

QAnon takes advantage of people’s familiarity with other right-wing conspiracies, utilizing anti-LGBT dog whistles and centuries-old antisemetic tropes, such as accusations of pedophilia.[6] It intersects with other modern fringe ideologies, such as the anti-vaxxer movement or anti-Black Lives Matter, building off of the attention they attract.[7] QAnon promoters and the actual user “Q” repeatedly used religious language to frame conspiracies, and the ideology follows patterns common in apocalyptic religions. The promise of a “reckoning,” a struggle of good vs evil, and absolute faith in a foundational text (Q-drops) are all recurring themes.[8] Notably, 23% of white evangelical Protestants and 23% of Jehovah’s Witnesses are QAnon believers, according to one PRRI study. This is a 7-point proportional increase from the general U.S. population.[9]

Additionally, it is thought that by framing the conspiracy around combating child trafficking, QAnon followers position themselves on the “right” or “just” side of any action they undertake[10]. Q posts also include frequent repetition of keywords and phrases, such as “trust the plan,” that followers and promoters subsequently adopted.[11] Visuals are also frequently used to explain ideas, which plays on the psychological tendency to associate visual layouts of information with authority[12].

Another common tactic has been referring to particular instances or posts that adherents believe prove Q’s legitimacy, called “Q Proofs.” In one example, Trump posted a photo on Twitter with the randomly assigned file name beginning “DOITQ.” Thisa was cited as proof of collaboration because of the reference to “Q.” Another prominent example is a blue plastic “Q” that appeared in Frederick Brennan’s apartment, supposedly as a “thank you” from Q for founding 8chan. Brennan posted a picture with the Q on 8chan, and Q confirmed that they had sent it. Brennan later revealed in an interview that the appearance of the blue Q had been orchestrated by himself and Ron Watkins. Q encouraged this kind of search for proof by frequently posting “Do you believe in coincidences?” along with similar phrases that implied Q had planned all of these alignments. Predictions that fall short are often explained away as intentional, or as misinterpreted by the community.[13] This takes advantage of the psychological phenomenon apophenia, the tendency to see connections between random events.[14]

Vagueness has also been used as a tactic to spread the QAnon message. The vagueness of QAnon’s theories, and the fact that it relies on users to interpret the meaning of Qposts, means that it is difficult to disprove — the argument can always be made that someone has simply interpreted the idea wrong, not that Q themself was wrong.[15] This vagueness has also allowed for political dog whistling, as political figures will often claim not to believe in QAnon while simultaneously signaling their support to the base[16]. For example, General Micheal Flynn took a QAnon oath on video, but later claimed that it was simply a family tradition, and not QAnon-related[17].

These tactics have created concern for U.S. security when compared with past movements. The Soufan Center, a non-profit research organization on security challenges, found that QAnon uses similar radicalization processes as Salafi-jihadism and other forms of extremism, raising concerns that “as the QAnon movement continues to evolve, it could grow more violent.”[18]

 

[1] Villarreal, Daniel. “QAnon Trolls Sent Death Threats to State Senator Over Sex Offender Bill.” Newsweek. 6 August 20. Web. 30 March 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/qanon-trolls-sent-death-threats-state-senator-over-sex-offender-bill-1523456

[2] LaFrance, A. “The Prophecies of Q." The Atlantic. 14 May 2020. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/qanon-nothing-can-stop-what-is-coming/610567/

[3] Zadrozny, Brandy, and Ben Collins. “How Three Conspiracy Theorists Took 'q' and Sparked Qanon.” NBCUniversal News Group, 14 August 2018. Web. 8 March 2022; Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

[4] Sommer, Will. “What is Qanon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained.” The Daily Beast. 20 March 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-is-qanon-the-craziest-theory-of-the-trump-era-explained

[5] Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

[6] Hatewatch Staff. “What You Need To Know About QAnon.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 27 October 2020. Web. 30 March 2022. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/10/27/what-you-need-know-about-qanon

Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[7] “IntelBrief: Red, White, and Q: QAnon Candidates Move Forward in U.S. Elections.” The Soufan Center. 26 August 2020. Web. 10 April 2022. https://thesoufancenter.org/intelbrief-red-white-and-q-qanon-candidates-move-forward-in-u-s-elections/

[8] LaFrance, A. “The Prophecies of Q." The Atlantic. 14 May 2020. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/qanon-nothing-can-stop-what-is-coming/610567/; Rogers, Kaleigh. “Why QAnon Has Attracted So Many White Evangelicals.” FiveThirtyEight. 4 March 2021. Web. 30 March 2022. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-qanon-has-attracted-so-many-whi...

[9] PRRI Staff. “The Persistence of QAnon in the Post-Trump Era: An Analysis of Who Believes in Conspiracies.” 24 February 2022. Web. 3 March 2022. https://www.prri.org/research/the-persistence-of-qanon-in-the-post-trump-era-an-analysis-of-who-believes-the-conspiracies/

[10] Coaston, Jane. “QAnon, the scarily popular conspiracy theory explained.” Vox. Updated August 21, 2020. Web. 13 April 2022. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/8/1/17253444/qanon-trump-conspiracy-theory-4chan-explainer

[11] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[12] Hannah, Matthew N. “A Conspiracy of Data: QAnon, Social Media, and Information Visualization.” Sagepub. July-September 2021. Web. 10 April 2022. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/20563051211036064

[13]Q: Into the Storm, Episodes 1 and 3, “Calm Before the Storm” and “Disinformation is Real.” Directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[14] Hannah, Matthew N. “A Conspiracy of Data: QAnon, Social Media, and Information Visualization.” Sagepub. July-September 2021. Web. 10 April 2022. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/20563051211036064

[15] Q: Into the Storm, Episode 1, “Calm Before the Storm” directed by Cullen Hoback, 21 March 2021, HBO Documentary Films

[16] Tiffany, Kaitlin. “The QAnon Dog Whistle at the SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings.” The Atlantic. 24 March 2022. Web. 31 March 2022. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/03/supreme-court-jackson-josh-hawley/629359/; Collins, Ben. “Qanon's New 'Plan'? Run for School Board.” NBCUniversal News Group, 7 July 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanons-new-plan-run-school-board-....

[17] Place, Nathan. “Micheal Flynn’s relatives deny using QAnon gesture.” The Independent. 8 July 2021. Web. 10 April 2022. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/michael-fl...

[18] The Soufan Center, “QUANTIFYING THE Q CONSPIRACY: A Data-Driven Approach to Understanding the Threat Posed by QAnon.” April 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://thesoufancenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/TSC-White-Paper_Q...

cardinal red photo

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: This list includes instances in which the militant group engaged in or threatened violence. It is not a comprehensive listing but captures some of the most notable examples of participation in violent events. 

As with everything else related to QAnon, which attacks can be directly attributed to QAnon is unclear. A report by the Anti-Defamation League found that about half of the killings by domestic extremists in 2021 didn’t have a clear ideological motive[1]. Attacks have commonly been considered QAnon-related when the perpetrator has spread QAnon theories on social media[2]. In May 2021, a Forbes report found that QAnon believers had committed 79 conspiracy-motivated crimes.

June 15, 2018: Matthew Wright staged an attempted terrorist attack near the Hoover Dam outside Las Vegas, Nevada. His confession letter included references to the QAnon conspiracy.[3]

August 2018: California authorities arrested a former landscaper, Forrest Clark, on charges of starting the “Holy Fire” wildfire in California. Clark’s social media frequently mentioned QAnon.[4]

April 2019: a New Mexico right-wing vigilante militia known as the United Constitutional Patriots held up approximately 300 migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico at gunpoint.[5] The militia claimed to be acting on behalf of US Border Patrol (Levin 2019; McNamara 2019). The group promoted far-right conspiracy theories, including the QAnon theory, on a local radio show (McNamara 2019). The militia leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, had previously posted QAnon conspiracy theories on his social media (McNamara 2019).

January 23, 2019: Ryan Jaselkis set a fire at the Comet Ping Pong pizza shop in Washington D.C.. The restaurant was a target for conspiracy theorists; it had previously implicated in a 2016 conspiracy theory known as #pizzagate. Jaselkis had posted QAnon conspiracy theories on his social media.[6]

March 13, 2019: Anthony Comello killed a prominent member of the Gambino crime syndicate, Francesco Cali, in Staten Island. Comello’s defense attorney claimed the incident occurred because of Comello’s belief that the QAnon conspiracy was true. Comello believed Cali was a “Deep State” member and that a citizen arrest of Cali would help Trump take back the country from the Deep State[7].

March 31, 2020: Eduardo Moreno, a train engineer, intentionally derailed his train in an attempt to ram the USNS Mercy. The incident failed, but the train did run through a number of barriers and cause some physical damage.[8] Moreno’s statement to authorities suggested he attacked the Mercy because of a QAnon conspiracy that the ship was part of a COVID-19 conspiracy.[9]

April 28, 2020: Police arrest Jessica Prim for driving erratically while she is en route to New York City. Police discover she planned to “take out” Joe Biden with a dozen knives she had in her car. Prim live-streamed her trip on Facebook and repeatedly discussed several QAnon-related concepts including “Frazzledrip.”[10]

January 6, 2021: Right-wing protestors breached the U.S. Capitol building, during which 5 people died and at least 134 more were injured.[11] QAnon-related social media accounts are largely credited with promoting the “Stop the Steal” movement that inspired the attack, and over half of QAnon-related twitter accounts tweeted about January 6th in the days leading up to it. While difficult to measure, it is estimated that many participants were QAnon adherents[12]

August 7, 2021: Matthew Taylor Coleman killed his two young children with a spearfishing gun, citing belief that they would “grow into monsters” because his wife has passed on “serpent DNA” to them. He was reportedly a follower of QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories.[13]

In addition to these attacks, there have been at least 4 instances where parents who did not have custody of their children were inspired by QAnon to kidnap them from Child Protective Services. Several of them believed that CPS was abducting their children to harvest their adrenochrome. Reports of some of these instances are linked in the footnote.[14]

 

[1] Kunzelman, Micheal. “Report: Conspiracy theorists fueled bump in extremist killings in 2021.” 15 February 2022, Web. 11 April 2022. https://omaha.com/article_982f3f29-ea3a-5f97-a6b5-a617d1f5e53b.html

[2] Beckett, Lois. “QANon: a timeline of violence linked to the conspiracy theory.” 16 October 2020. Web. 11 April 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/15/qanon-violence-crimes-ti...

[3] Woolf, Nicky. “QAnon: Inside 4Chan Conspiracy Suggests Donald Trump Secret Genius.” New Statesman. Updated 8 December 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/qanon-inside-4chan-conspiracy-suggests-donald-trump-secret-genius

[5] Levin, Sam. “Videos appear to show armed militia detaining migrants at US-Mexico border.” The Guardian. 18 April 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/18/new-mexico-migrants-armed-militia-detained

[6]Zadrozny, Brandy and Ben Collins. “Pizzagate video was posted to Youtube account of alleged arsonist’s parents before fire.” NBC News. 14 February 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/pizzagate-conspiracy-video-posted-youtube-account-alleged-arsonist-s-parents-n971891

[7] Watkins, Ali. “He Wasn’t Seeking to Kill a Mob Boss; He Was Trying to Help Trump, His Lawyer Says.” New York Times. 21 July 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/21/nyregion/gambino-shooting-anthony-comello-frank-cali.html

[8] “Train Operator at Port of Los Angeles Charged with Derailing Locomotives Near US Navy’s Hospital Ship Mercy.” Department of Justice. 1 April 2020. https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/train-operator-port-los-angeles-charged-derailing-locomotive-near-us-navy-s-hospital

[9] Winton, Richard. “FBI Looks for Ties to Extremist Groups in Train Derailment near hospital ship Mercy.” Los Angeles Times. 2 April 2020. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-02/fbi-train-derailment-mercy-naval-ship-extremist-groups

[10] Harris, Margot. “A Woman Inspired by QAnon conspiracy videos was arrested after live-streaming her trip to take out Joe Biden.” Insider. 2020. https://www.insider.com/biden-qanon-supporter-arrested-attemp-live-streaming-trip-to-take-2020-5

[11] Speare-Cole, Rebecca. “134 Police Officers Assaulted in Capitol Riots, Justice Department Says.”Newsweek. 25 January 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/134-police-officers-injured-capitol-riots-court...

[12] Greenspan, Rachel E. “QAnon Conspiracy Theory, Misinformation Fueled Capitol Riots.” Insider. 7 January 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://www.insider.com/capitol-riots-qanon-protest-conspiracy-theory-wa...

[13] Madani, Doha, Andrew Blankstein, and Ben Collins.“California dad killed his kids over QAnon and ‘serpent DNA’ conspiracy theories, feds claim.” NBC News. 11 August 2021. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-dad-killed-his-kids-over...

[14] Sommer, Will. “Another QAnon Mom Has Allegedly Kidnapped Her Kid” The Daily Beast.

1 October 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/another-qanon-mom-has-allegedly-kidnapped-her-kid; Sommer, Will. “QAnon Promotes Pedo-Ring Conspiracy Theories. Now They’re Stealing Kids.” The Daily Beast. 16 August 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/qanon-promotes-pedo-ring-conspiracy-theories-now-theyre-stealing-kids; Slevin, Colleen. “Woman accused in QAnon plot pleads not guilty.” ABC News. 25 September 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/woman-accused-qanon-kidnapping-plot-pleads-guilty-73251044; Holloway, Henry. “QAnon fuelds child kidnappings from France to U.S. as brainwashed snatchers try to ‘save kids from blood-drinking paedos.’” The Sun. 21 April 2021. https://www.the-sun.com/news/2738176/qanon-kidnapping-own-children-paedophiles/; Hatewatch Staff. “What You Need To Know About QAnon.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 27 October 2020. Web. 30 March 2022. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/10/27/what-you-need-know-about-qanon

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences
Designated/Listed
  • Designated/Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Community Relations

QAnon following has been heavily linked to poor mental health, and many followers (43%) reported being radicalized following a traumatic event.[1] There has been a reported increase in demand for therapists who specialize in psychological manipulation, in order to help people “leave” the QAnon online communities.[2]

Additionally, QAnon has caused rifts in families and relationships across the U.S. Many people claim that getting involved with QAnon dramatically changed their loved ones’ personality and behavior.[3]

QAnon supporters have been elected to many local positions, including school board and state legislature.[4] The community has often responded with resistance and in the case of Grand Blanc, Michigan, protests.[5]

 

[1] Brewster, Jack. “QAnon Believers Committed Nearly 80 Conspiracy-Motivated Crimes, Report Finds.” Forbes. 27 May 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackbrewster/2021/05/27/qanon-believers-com...

[2] Stanley, Andrea.“Thousands of People Are Trying to Leave QAnon, but Getting Out Is Almost Impossible.” Cosmopolitan. 13 October 2021. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a37696261/leaving-recovering-from...

[3] Batchelor, Tom. “How QAnon Conspiracy Theorists Are Tearing American Families Apart.” 11 February 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/qanon-conspiracy-theorists-capitol-riot-american-families-1568664; Gilbert, David. “How QAnon is Tearing Families Apart.” Vice. 31 March 2021. https://www.vice.com/en/article/dy8ayx/how-qanon-is-tearing-families-apart

[4] Rothschild, Mike. “Local Governments Across America Have a QAnon Problem” The Daily Dot. 2 July 2020. https://www.dailydot.com/debug/local-goverment-politicians-qanon/

[5] Bergengruen, Vera. “How QAnon Conspiracy Theorists Are Winning Local Elections. Can They Be Stopped?” Time. 16 April 2021. Web. 10 April 2022. https://time.com/5955248/qanon-local-elections/

Relationships with Other Groups

QAnon has often served as a bridge to more extreme groups, as the anti-Semetic implications of QAnon translate easily to the ideologies of white supremacist and other right-wing extremist organizations.[1] Right-wing militias and other extremist groups have also adopted QAnon theories into their own ideology.[2]

In April 2018, a New Mexico right-wing vigilante militia known as the United Constitutional Patriots held up approximately 300 migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico at gunpoint.[3] The militia claimed to be acting on behalf of US Border Patrol[4]. The group promoted far-right conspiracy theories, including the QAnon theory, on a local radio show [5]. The militia leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, had previously posted QAnon conspiracy theories on his social media[6].

Veterans on Patrol, a vigilante group in Arizona, began promoting QAnon conspiracy theories in 2018 after purportedly finding “evidence” of a child sex trafficking ring.[7] 

Members of the Oathkeeper traveled to Arizona to meet up with Veterans on Patrol following the latter’s invitation for individuals to assist them in the fight against the “Deep State.”[8] In 2018, a faction of Oathkeepers launched “Operation Child Shield” to orchestrate more investigations into potential child trafficking rings in and around Arizona.[9]

The Three Percenter movement is thought to have a large number of overlapping members with the QAnon movement. Three members of the White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia bombed a Minnesota mosque in August and November 2017. There is speculation the group named itself as an homage to a popular QAnon saying to “follow the white rabbit.”[10]

The Proud Boys and Boogaloo movements are thought to have large number of overlapping members with the QAnon members based on similar Internet memes shared by these groups.[11]

The Sovereign Citizen Movement is thought to have strong overlap with QAnon followers given how frequently known sovereign citizen followers amplify QAnon ideas.[12]

German far-right groups including the Reichsburger (Citizens of the Reich) movement have discussed or amplified QAnon conspiracy theories.[13] The Reichsburger movement also claims ties to the Sovereign Citizens movement. The largest European QAnon Facebook group “QAnon Europa” had approximately 20,000 members before Facebook shut it down in August 2020.[14] Substantially sized QAnon Facebook groups have also been found that are German, Italian, Polish, Dutch, Australian and British.[15]

During the 2020 campaign season, Trump’s campaign made several implicit and explicit outreach efforts to QAnon followers including:

  • Campaign materials in key battleground states using QAnon iconography
  • Trump’s campaign director of press communications, Erin Perrine, went on “Patriot Soapbox” to encourage listeners to get involved in the campaign. 
  • White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino retweeting several QAnon memes
  • Donald Trump personally retweeting many QAnon-aligned supporters at least 216 times before his removal from Twitter[16]
  • Eric Trump posting (and later deleting) a tweet with the phrase “where we go one, we go all”[17]
  • Donald Trump commending QAnon supporters at rallies and implicitly commending their “hard” work fighting against child sex trafficking[18]

 

Additional political groups that support for QAnon can be found in the “political activities” section.

Individual QAnon adherents have created spin-off groups and organizations that are more radical, or with specific goals. One example is E-Clause, which promoted fringe legal theories (similar to those of the sovereign citizen’s movement) regarding child custody and offered legal advice to parents trying to regain their kids from CPS.[19]

 

[1] The Soufan Center, “QUANTIFYING THE Q CONSPIRACY: A Data-Driven Approach to Understanding the Threat Posed by QAnon.” April 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://thesoufancenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/TSC-White-Paper_Q...

[2] Goforth, Claire. “Right-wing militias have adopted QAnon with frightening ease.” The Daily Dot. 25 August 2020. https://www.dailydot.com/debug/right-wing-militias-qanon-facebook/

[3] Levin, Sam. “Videos appear to show armed militia detaining migrants at US-Mexico border.” The Guardian. 18 April 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/18/new-mexico-migrants-armed-militia-detained

[4] Levin, Sam. “Videos appear to show armed militia detaining migrants at US-Mexico border.” The Guardian. 18 April 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/18/new-mexico-migrants-armed-militia-detained; McNamara, Audrey. “FBI Arrests New Mexico Border Militia Leader Larry Mitchell Hopkins.” Daily Beast. 20 April 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/fbi-arrests-larry-mitchell-hopkins-leader-of-united-constitutional-patriots-border-militia

[5] McNamara, Audrey. “FBI Arrests New Mexico Border Militia Leader Larry Mitchell Hopkins.” Daily Beast. 20 April 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/fbi-arrests-larry-mitchell-hopkins-leader-of-united-constitutional-patriots-border-militia

[6] McNamara, Audrey. “FBI Arrests New Mexico Border Militia Leader Larry Mitchell Hopkins.” Daily Beast. 20 April 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/fbi-arrests-larry-mitchell-hopkins-leader-of-united-constitutional-patriots-border-militia

[7] Wiles, Tay. “Conspiracy Theories inspire vigilante justice in Tucson.” High Country News. 12 September 2018. https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.17/politics-conspiracy-theories-inspire-vigilante-justice-in-tucson; Kelly, Brendan Joel and Hatewatch Staff. “QAnon Conspiracy Increasingly Popular with Antigovernment Extremists.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 23 April 2019. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/04/23/qanon-conspiracy-increasingly-popular-antigovernment-extremists

[8] Kelly, Brendan Joel and Hatewatch Staff. “QAnon Conspiracy Increasingly Popular with Antigovernment Extremists.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 23 April 2019. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/04/23/qanon-conspiracy-increasingly-popular-antigovernment-extremists

[9] Wiles, Tay. “Conspiracy Theories inspire vigilante justice in Tucson.” High Country News. 12 September 2018. https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.17/politics-conspiracy-theories-inspire-vigilante-justice-in-tucson

[10] Kelly, Brendan Joel and Hatewatch Staff. “QAnon Conspiracy Increasingly Popular with Antigovernment Extremists.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 23 April 2019. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/04/23/qanon-conspiracy-increasingly-popular-antigovernment-extremists

[11] Shirin and Ghaffary. “Facebook and Twitter said they would crack down on QAnon, but the delusion seems unstoppable.” Vox. 6 October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.vox.com/recode/21499485/qanon-facebook-twitter-bans-republican-politics

[12] Kelly, Brendan Joel and Hatewatch Staff. “QAnon Conspiracy Increasingly Popular with Antigovernment Extremists.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 23 April 2019. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/04/23/qanon-conspiracy-increasingly-popular-antigovernment-extremists

[13] Rauhala, Emily and Loveday Morris. “In the United States, QAnon is Struggling. The conspiracy is thriving abroad.” Washington Post. 13 November 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/qanon-conspiracy-global-reach/2020/11/12/ca312138-13a5-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html

[14] Lawrence, David and Gregory Davis. “QAnon in the UK: The Growth of a Movement.” Hope Not Hate. October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/qanon-report-2020-10-FINAL.pdf

[15] Wong, Julia Carrie. “Revealed: QAnon Facebook groups are growing at a rapid pace around the world.” The Guardian. 11 August 2020. Web. 20 March 20222. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/11/qanon-facebook-groups-gr...

[16] Pryor, J.J. “Is QAnon a Cult and Who Is Q?” Medium. Politically Speaking, 22 January 2021. Web. 8 March 2022. https://medium.com/politically-speaking/is-qanon-finally-dead-maybe-5c00....

[17] Stanley-Becker, Isaac. “How the Trump Campaign Came to Embrace QAnon, the online conspiracy movement identified by the FBI as a violent threat.” Washington Post. 2 August 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-trump-campaign-came-to-court-qanon-the-online-conspiracy-movement-identified-by-the-fbi-as-a-violent-threat/2020/08/01/dd0ea9b4-d1d4-11ea-9038-af089b63ac21_story.html

[18] Nguyen, Tina. “The GOP starts forging a new alliance with QAnon.” Politico. 15 October 2020. Web. 19 March 2022. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/15/qanon-trump-maga-movement-429739

[19]  Sommer, Will. “QAnon Promotes Pedo-Ring Conspiracy Theories. Now They’re Stealing Kids.” The Daily Beast. 16 August 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/qanon-promotes-pedo-ring-conspiracy-theories-now-theyre-stealing-kids; Hatewatch Staff. “What You Need To Know About QAnon.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 27 October 2020. Web. 30 March 2022. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/10/27/what-you-need-know-about-qanon

State Sponsors and External Influences

While no states have officially stated their support for QAnon, several studies have linked its spread to foreign technological efforts. Beginning in November 2017, the hashtag #QAnon was retweeted by Russian-associated twitter accounts approximately 17,000 times. This makes the #QAnon hashtag the most common hashtag associated with a Russian account.[1] Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik also increased their coverage of the QAnon theory between 2019 and 2020.[2]

In a 2021 analysis, the Soufan center found that in 2020 and the beginning of 2021 an average of 20% of QAnon-categorized Facebook posts were more likely than not to have come from a foreign account. They found influence to be coming overwhelmingly from Russia and China, although a substantial portion likely originated in Iran as well. The deplatforming measures taken by many social media sites in 2020 appear to have had little effect in removing foreign-influenced QAnon content.[3]

 

[1] Menn, Joseph. “Russian-backed organizations amplifying QAnon conspiracy theories, researchers say.” Reuters. 24 August 2020. Web. 18 March 2022.

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-election-qanon-russia/russian-bac...

[2] Menn, Joseph. “Russian-backed organizations amplifying QAnon conspiracy theorists, researchers say.” Reuters. 24 August 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-qanon-russia/russian-backed-organizations-amplifying-qanon-conspiracy-theories-researchers-say-idUSKBN25K13T

[3] The Soufan Center, “QUANTIFYING THE Q CONSPIRACY: A Data-Driven Approach to Understanding the Threat Posed by QAnon.” April 2021. Web. 9 April 2022. https://thesoufancenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/TSC-White-Paper_Q...

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.