What is QAnon, the baseless conspiracy spilling into US politics?

Author: Anieka Johnson

Read the full politifact.com article here


In mid August, Marjorie Taylor Greene won the primary election in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, which is likely to vote red in November. Two weeks later, she was invited to attend President Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention. Jo Rae Perkins of Oregon and Lauren Boebert of Colorado also won Republican primary elections this summer.

What do these candidates have in common? They are among several aspiring lawmakers who have promoted QAnon.

The conspiracy theory claims public figures like Hillary Clinton, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey are Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles. QAnon is based on posts from Q, an anonymous internet persona who claims to be a government insider with information on a "deep state" plot to work against Trump.

Those claims are not grounded in facts, and lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation condemning the conspiracy theory. But QAnon has gained steam since its 2017 emergence, and Trump has, at times, tacitly encouraged its supporters.

Trump has amplified QAnon accounts on Twitter and supported political candidates who subscribe to it. When asked about QAnon in several recent press briefings, the president demurred.

"Well I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate," he said during an Aug. 19 briefing.

Trump is right — QAnon does like him. But there’s more to the baseless conspiracy theory than presidential politics, and the FBI warned that it’s a potential domestic terrorism threat.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Have a question about QAnon that we didn’t answer here? Send it to truthometer@politifact.com.   

What is "Q"?

The term "QAnon" is a mashup of "Q" and "anon," an abbreviation for "anonymous." The term has been used to reference the conspiracy theory and its followers. The Q is a reference to a high level of security clearance at the Department of Energy.

QAnon has been around since October 2017, when Q started posting vague and cryptic messages — which have become known as "breadcrumbs" and "Q drops" — on a fringe internet forum called 4chan. Those posts serve as the backbone of the conspiracy theory, whose believers trend conservative.

Q has published more than 4,600 posts on 4chan and 8chan message boards, including links, images and obscure messages. Here’s an excerpt from one of Q’s earliest posts:

There are more good people than bad. The wizards and warlocks (inside term) will not allow another Satanic Evil POS control our country. Realize Soros, Clintons, Obama, Putin, etc. are all controlled by 3 families (the 4th was removed post Trump's victory). 

11.3 - Podesta indicted

11.6 - Huma indicted

The dates at the end of the excerpt reference are a prediction for when John Podesta, former chair of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and Huma Abedin, the campaign’s vice chair, would be indicted for previously undisclosed crimes. Neither came to pass.

Some believers think that Q is a single person, while others speculate that Q’s identity has changed over time. The forum for Q’s posts has changed, moving from 4chan to 8chan, which rebranded as 8kun in fall 2019 after manifestos related to three mass shootings were posted on the platform.


Read the full politifact.com article here