If you haven't heard of Q or have questions about it, don't worry, we all do. Spreading from fringe message boards to mainstream platforms, it has increasingly become a political issue and is becoming clearer that there might just be more behind this "conspiracy theory".
Let's take a look. The Wall Street Jurnal gives us a pretty good overview and answer to you main questions:
What is QAnon?
QAnon is a far right-wing, loosely organized network and community of believers who embrace a wide range of unsubstantiated theories. These views center around the tenet that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, mainly consisting of what they see as elitist Democrats, politicians, journalists, entertainment moguls and other institutional figures, have long controlled much of the “deep state” government, which they say seeks to undermine President Trump, mostly with aid of media and entertainment outlets.
What is the QAnon conspiracy theory?
QAnon conspiracy theory alleges that there is a battle of good versus evil in which the Republican Mr. Trump sides with the former. QAnon followers are awaiting two major events: the Storm and the Great Awakening. The Storm is the mass arrest of people in high-power positions who will face a long-awaited reckoning. The Great Awakening involves a single event in which everyone will reach the epiphany that QAnon theory was accurate the whole time. This realization will allow society to enter an age of utopia.
Who is “Q”?
Followers believe that “Q” is a high-ranking government insider, presumably with a military or intelligence background, committed to exposing the hidden truth of what they see as an international bureaucracy scheming against Mr. Trump and his supporters. Some followers believe that “Q” often sends coded signals of his or her existence, using the number 17, the letter Q’s placement in the alphabet. Oftentimes, online posts behind QAnon conspiracy theories have described “Q” as a patriot or saint.
Where and how did QAnon start?
In October 2017, messages on the anonymous online messaging board 4chan attributed to “Q Clearance Patriot” were posted and signed off by a user known as “Q,” referencing the Energy Department’s highest level of security clearance regarding nuclear weapons known as “Q clearance.” These cryptic messages would later be referred to as Q drops or breadcrumbs, clandestine code that often made their way into pro-Trump slogans, messages and followers.
Jumping back to present time, just this past week, the New York Times did a feature what some compelling evidence:
There have been plenty of potential wake-up calls. Among them: a 2018 standoff at the Hoover Dam with a QAnon believer, the 2019 murder of a Gambino crime family boss by a QAnon supporter who believed the boss was part of a deep-state cabal, an August 2019 F.B.I. report that warned that QAnon could spur domestic terrorism, a West Point report calling the movement “a security threat in the making,” and the April arrest of a QAnon follower who was found with a dozen knives while driving to “take out” Joe Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
But it seems the true tipping point came this week. First was the report from Ari Sen and Brandy Zadrozny at NBC News about an internal Facebook investigation that gives the first real glimpse into the size of QAnon’s online footprint. The investigation found millions of members across thousands of QAnon groups and pages.
This was followed by a Guardian investigation that found “more than 170 QAnon groups, pages and accounts across Facebook and Instagram with more than 4.5 million aggregate followers.”
And, it appears that some are starting to get rattled by Q and his/her/their following, as noted by CNN:
Much of the conspiracy conversation happens in the social media shadows, in private groups. Earlier this week NBC's Ari Sen and Brandy Zadrozny reported that "an internal investigation by Facebook has uncovered thousands of groups and pages, with millions of members and followers, that support the QAnon conspiracy theory." The source? Internal Facebook documents. The company is weighing taking action against its QAnon community. Twitter recently made similar moves.
On Thursday the Wall Street Journal's Deepa Seetharaman wrote that Q-aligned groups have "exploded in popularity" on Facebook and Instagram "since the start of the coronavirus pandemic." Some of the spread is attributable to sheer boredom, it would seem.
It apears that free speach in private groups is fine as long as it not bothering the higher-ups, amirite?
Some more back up here, courtesy of CNN:
In media circles, there is considerable debate about how to cover this phenomenon. On Thursday [Kevin] Roose [NY Times reporter] responded to some commenters who criticized him for giving the cult a platform by saying "Friends, I'm afraid that horse has left the barn, bought a laptop, gone to 8kun, posted a drop in a 200,000-member Facebook group, laundered it onto cable news, and filed papers to run for Congress.
Numerous Republican congressional candidates "have embraced" QAnon, as CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi reported earlier this week.
At the top of the list is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is all but certain to win her House race in Georgia this fall. Trump praised Greene for winning her primary.
As Stracqualursi wrote, candidates like Greene are "espousing and promoting QAnon theories and phrases as they seek political office on a major party ticket."
This should answer some of your questions and give you a basic guide - and perhaps we will do a larger, more in-depth article or article series and try to solve the Q mystery. For now, check out the video below to find out more: