A new poll has revealed that Republicans overwhelmingly believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory to some extent. A third say it’s mostly true, another 20% say it’s partly true. Only 13% say it is not true. According to a recent Washington Post article, the Trump campaign actively courted the online conspiracy community QAnon in the lead-up to the 2020 election, which makes an alarming combination. According to a recent piece in Bloomberg Business, it might be time to try intervening in the online community, but just how to do so is a serious question. The problem is, you can’t easily ban QAnon supporters from Twitter, for example, because they find new ways to engage on the platform, either in secret or by subverted other conversations.
Twitter has banned 7,000 accounts related to the QAnon conspiracy theory, all of whom have violated the site’s policy on harassment. Twitter will also limit the spread of QAnon-related misinformation, which is expected to impact another 150,000 users. Unfortunately, QAnon conspiracists believe that big companies like Twitter are already part of a conspiracy against freedom, so this is basically guaranteed to go poorly.
Ed Mullins, the head of the New York city police department union recently gave an interview on Fox News via Zoom. Just behind Mullins’s shoulder sat a QAnon mug. If you haven’t heard of QAnon, perhaps you’re lucky. It’s a conspiracy theory born on 4Chan, and named after a user who claims to be an in-the-know government insider. In over a year’s worth of cryptic tweets, QAnon has managed to convince a sizable group of Americans that the world is run by a cabal of satanic pedophiles led by elite liberal politicians. Let that sink in for a moment.
If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. In early December of 2016, a very confused young man entered a Washington D.C. pizzeria armed with an assault rifle. He was there to investigate a conspiracy about a child prostitution/political corruption ring being run through the restaurant. The #pizzagate conspiracy was originally stoked by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and with the help of social media the conspiracy led to violence. In the year or two after the #pizzagate conspiracy died down, critics focused their blame on on Alex Jones and the ultra-ring-wing conspiracy crowd like him.