PART 4 (to be continued from Part 3 CLICK HERE)
Jeff Williams | Published on July 24, 2021
What’s the Appeal of QAnon?
Even with the popularity of conspiracy theories and QAnon’s innovations, it can still be incomprehensible that anyone would join a cult with such insane, easily debunked beliefs.
So, why are so many people drawn to QAnon? To answer this question, you need to look beyond its claims and beliefs and think about what QAnon offers people.
In the early 21st century, psychologists in the USA started studying the appeal of conspiracy theories and their correlations with cults. Their research has made some important conclusions:
- All successful
conspiracy theories address negative emotions like fear, pain, suffering,
grievance, neglect, isolation, and paranoia.
theorists are often unable to handle change and uncertainty well, both in their
personal lives and at a societal level.
- They display a
tendency towards ‘conspiracist ideation,’ the attraction to simple narratives
of good vs. evil, and hidden forces determined to destroy their lives.
- They have a
deep mistrust of government.
23.Trust in The US Government (by % of Population)
Source: Pew Research
When you consider millions of people have joined QAnon, the research detailed above signals a disturbing conclusion: American society is plagued by mass grievance, anger, division, insecurity, loneliness, and isolation. This is not a new issue – it’s been building for decades.
Sociologists, activists, and policy-makers have been campaigning for years to highlight the dangers of letting these issues fester unaddressed.
But with the rise of QAnon in 2018, it became clear just how desperate people have become, seeking a form of community and stability in a cult that was spawned in the darkest corners of the internet.
Furthermore, QAnon gives people easy villains to blame for their woes (Democrats, elites, billionaires, Jews, global institutions, etc.) and empowers them to fight back. In doing so, they’re no longer a victim – they become a hero in an epic battle of good vs. evil.
If they’re killed in the struggle, as one QAnon supporter was during the US Capitol attack at the beginning of January 2021, they’re not criminals or rioters; they’re a martyr for the cause.
24. From Candacewensfans.com
It can feel like Qanon came out of nowhere. You never heard of it, until suddenly it was everywhere, all at once.
But while QAnon’s rise from internet obscurity to mainstream political force and national security risk was rapid, it’s surprisingly easy to trace. Everything about QAnon happened out in the open.
25.Rise of QAnon- A Timeline
QAnon first emerges online. It quickly spreads from fringe forums to the White House.
October 6: US President Donald Trump hosts a dinner for military leaders at the White House.
He tells reporters present: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm. Could be the calm, the calm before the storm.”
He refuses to explain the statement.
October 28th: The first QAnon post is published on fringe internet forum 4chan – an anonymous imageboard known for hosting controversial communities.
The post is titled “Calm Before the Storm.” The author, identifying as Q Clearance Patriot, claims to have access to high-level intelligence that Hilary Clinton would soon be extradited. The National Guard would be activated on Oct. 30th, and mass rioting would ensue shortly after.
None of these predictions would come true.
November: Two 4chan moderators, Paul Furber and Coleman Rogers, team up with a small-time Youtuber Tracy Diaz to spread Q’s message to a wider audience. They create the first QAnon Reddit community and Youtube channels.
American actress Roseanne Barr tweets about QAnon, raising it’s profile significantly. She continues sporadically tweeting about QAnon until Mar ‘18.
For the first time, Donald Trump elevates QAnon, quote tweeting @MAGAPILL, a Twitter account that regularly promotes the conspiracy theory. He includes a link to its website.
December: Mainstream press first starts reporting on QAnon.
QAnon infiltrates right-wing media in the US. First known acts of violence and terrorism inspired by the cult.
January: Fox News host Sean Hannity tweets a QAnon hashtag for the first time.
Q moves to 8chan, claiming his 4chan board has been ‘infiltrated.’ 8chan is notorious for connections with white supremacy, anti-Semitism, child pornography, and mass shootings across the US. Paul Furber manages Q’s 8chan board.
March: Reddit bans Furber, Rogers, and Diaz from its platform and closes their subreddit due to incitement of violence and sharing private information of individuals.
June: In the first known act of violence inspired by QAnon, a gunman holds up traffic on Hoover Dam for 90 minutes. He’s arrested and detained on terrorism charges by Nevada police.
July: The first televised record of QAnon supporters appearing at Trump rallies.
In one shot from a rally – broadcast on Fox New – Trump is partially blocked by a sign reading ‘We Are Q.’ 10s of millions of people are exposed to QAnon for the first time.
27.Q trump rally
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to denounce the group when asked about it later.
A security expert analyzes QAnon’s coded messages and claims they’re just random typing with no meaning.
August: Conspiracy theorist and QAnon promoter Michael LeBron tweets photos of himself with Donald Trump while touring the White House.
October: Police arrest a man for starting a wildfire in California that burned 20,000 acres. The suspect appears to have been inspired by QAnon and Pizzagate.
December: Police arrest another man found with bomb-making material in a different state. QAnon once again appears to be an inspiration.
The US election kicks off. Donald Trump and his campaign fully embrace QAnon and its supporters.
March: The largest group of Q supporters on record attends a Trump rally.
Inspired by QAnon, Anthony Carmello murders Gambino crime family underboss Frank Cali outside his home. Carmello appears in court with QAnon symbols and MAGA phrases written on his hands.
May: Internal FBI memo identifies QAnon as a domestic terror threat.
July: Bill Mitchell – a broadcaster and QAnon promoter – attends a White House ‘social media summit’ hosted by Donald Trump to celebrate his online media supporters.
Jeffrey Epstein is arrested for trafficking minors for sex for himself and procuring them for friends. His arrest is seen as validation for Q and his followers. The community mostly ignores Epstein’s well-publicized friendship with Donald Trump.
August: Warm-up act at a Trump rally uses the “WWG1WGA” QAnon motto. He later denies it’s connected to Qanon.
Trump’s re-election campaign releases a ‘Women for Trump’ ad on Youtube featuring prominent QAnon signs and slogans. It later deletes the ad.
8chan is shut down for connection to white supremacist shooting in El Paso targeting the local Hispanic community, in which a lone gunman murders 23 people.
After a few false starts, 8chan re-emerges online as 8kun, hosted by a Russian company known for facilitating cybercrime.
Q accounts start posting on 8kun shortly after. Endchan also becomes a popular forum for QAnon followers.
A study shows that Trump has amplified QAnon at least 258 times since its birth. This includes retweeting or mentioning 150 Twitter accounts linked to QAnon, often multiple times a day.
Jeffrey Epstein dies in his cell before being charged. Questions around his death elevate conspiracies about his connections with elite figures. QAnon grows significantly.
November: British monarch Prince Andrew gives a disastrous interview discussing his friendship with Epstein. His comments and allegations made against him by numerous women fuel QAnon’s spread in the UK.
December: Trump retweets a prominent QAnon influencer and organizer of QAnon marches.
2020QAnon goes global.
Fear, uncertainty, and misinformation about Covid-19, vaccines, 5G, and Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest and death create a perfect storm for QAnon to gain a following in over 70 countries.
Social media companies attempt to clamp down on QAnon communities, but many fear it’s too little too late.
Donald Trump loses the 2020 election. While some QAnon followers lose faith, many double-down and decide it’s further proof of the cabal’s power.
February: Trump, his admin, and re-election campaign repeatedly engage with QAnon figures and followers and release media with QAnon featuring prominently.
March: At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Fox News host Sean Hannity promotes a Covid-19 conspiracy started by QAnon on his radio show. It’s an early example of a growing trend throughout 2020: the convergence of QAnon with anti-vaxxer, 5G, New World Order, and Coronavirus conspiracies into one big, messy, paranoid worldview.
March-June: QAnon activity doubles on Instagram and Twitter. It triples on Facebook, due to the popularity of QAnon Facebook groups and the nature of its algorithms.
April: A man derails a train in Los Angeles, targeting a nearby US navy hospital ship’. After his arrest, he quotes QAnon numerous times.
June: Q encourages followers to take a “digital soldiers oath.” The Twitter hashtag #TakeTheOath starts trending.
28.Screen Shot 2020-12-28 at 13.33.54
July: Twitter bans thousands of QAnon accounts and changes its algorithms to reduce its spread.
A reservist in the Canadian Rangers allegedly rams a truck through the gates of the prime minister’s residence in Ottawa. The suspect had previously used his personal and business social media accounts to post conspiracy theories around QAnon and Coronavirus.
July 4th: An American independence day, Trump retweets QAnon accounts 14 times throughout the day.
The next day, Michael Flynn – a convicted criminal, Trump associate and former national security advisor – posts a Twitter video taking the QAnon oath with his family.
August: Trump is asked about QAnon during a press conference. He replies:
“Well I don’t know much about the movement other than they like me very much… which I appreciate… I’ve heard these are people that love our country. So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”
An internal report published by Facebook shows that the top QAnon groups on the social network contain over 3 million members in the USA alone. In total, thousands of groups and pages dedicated to QAnon are found across Facebook. The company takes steps to remove groups and restrict QAnon activity. However, both continue to flourish.
The first QAnon conference, Q Con Live!, is held in Jacksonville, Florida.
September: Mike Pence is scheduled to attend an event hosted by QAnon supporters. He eventually cancels his appearance.
A report is published detailing how ‘Pastel QAnon’ – a softer, less outwardly extreme version of the conspiracy – has spread throughout new age and wellness communities worldwide. People report seeing examples of Pastel QAnon in Facebook groups dedicated to yoga, natural births, parenting, fitness, mental health, and much more.
October: Trump is asked to denounce QAnon publicly in a televised interview. He responds:
“I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it. What I do hear about it is that they are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that. I mean, I agree with that. And I do agree with that very strongly.”
The QAnon community views his comments as an explicit endorsement.
The FBI arrests 13 men for plotting to kidnap Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer. Evidence suggests at least 7 of the men involved previously showed support for QAnon.
Esty removes all QAnon merchandise from its marketplace. Amazon makes little effort to follow Etsy’s example. QAnon books and merchandise are widely available to purchase from numerous sellers on Amazon until 2021.
Youtube’s CEO states that QAnon doesn’t break the platform’s rules, despite the constant incitement of violence and targeting individuals for harassment. Shortly after, the company modifies its algorithm to reduce the viewership of QAnon content. It also changes its hate and harassment policies slightly to address QAnon.
November: Trump loses the US presidential election, failing to fulfill Q’s prophecies and bring about the Great Awakening.
Two QAnon supporters are elected to the US House of Representatives. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene are both members of the Republican party.
Research suggests at least 24 congressional candidates running in the 2020 elections supported QAnon.
TO BE CONTINUED ON THIS ARTICLE PART 5 (CLICK HERE)