While the Republican Convention has begun, the GOP still needs to address its relation to QAnon. The conspiracy that has already been censored on Twitter and Facebook supports President Donald Trump, who has not distanced himself from QAnon but stated he appreciated the movement’s support. However, it is not only the president who is a prominent supporter.

Deleting QAnon

Facebook has deleted numerous accounts of the QAnon movement, which is spreading conspiracy theories online in support of President Trump. The company says it has removed almost 800 groups with connections to QAnon from its network. In addition, it deleted around a hundred pages, and around 1500 ads with links to the movement Facebook said.

The company also deleted hundreds of hashtags related to QAnon on Facebook and Instagram. Restrictions have also come into force for many pages on Facebook, and more than 10,000 Instagram accounts with connections to the movement. Previously, Twitter had already deleted thousands of accounts connected to QAnon.

What is QAnon?

QAnon is not an organization nor consists of fixed structure, but rather a legend, a loose movement formed on the Internet, and is increasingly seen in daily politics, for example, at COVID-19 anti-lockdown demonstrations or Trump rallies.

The origin of QAnons date back to October 2017. At this point, a cryptic text appeared on a discussion channel on the “4chan” internet site. One of the statements: Hillary Clinton will be arrested soon. The obscure post would hardly have attracted attention. However, 4chan moderators and Youtubers began to establish a complete legend around the latter. Henceforth claimed that the author had the highest non-military US security clearance “Q” and thus had access to the country’s most clandestine secrets.

One cannot positively establish who the first text came from and whether the same person or group wrote the following posts assigned to QAnon as publications on 4chan are anonymous, users do not need to register.

Q’s ‘Breadcrumbs’

Q’s texts, so-called “Q Drops,” or “breadcrumbs” are often cryptic or completely incomprehensible. They mostly consist of scraps of sentences or questions. As a continuous theme, however, the myth of a dark, clandestine elite has brought the USA under its control: the “Deep State.” It is not uncommon for the statements to have more or less hidden anti-Semitic connotations. Moreover, the conspiracies use real events and interpret these as evidence for the claims.

The alleged antagonists from politics, media, and entertainment are assumed to have acted as Satanic, sadistic, and twisted pedophiles. According to QAnon, Trump is covertly putting an end to these evils, holding the conspirators accountable, and freeing their victims. Central figures in this conspiracy are said to include Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Barack Obama, and several other former US presidents.

Fake News

In contrast to conspiracy myths, QDrops entail concrete announcements with a more or less exact time. In autumn 2017, it was spread that Trump would conduct a move against the “Deep State” within a few days and gain power with the military’s help. The arrest of Hillary Clinton and numerous other named people was also imminent.

However, these falsehoods do not seem to deter QAnon supporters. In fact, within the movement, the non-occurrences of Q’s predictions are instead considered a misinterpretation or as particularly smart moves within the bigger picture of an overarching strategy.

QAnon and the GOP

Nonetheless, prominent political figures or those who seek to become one seem to have no issues about a public affiliation with the movement. President Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, for example, was recently seen pledging his allegiance to QAnon, stating its signature slogan “Where we go one, we go all,” abbreviated: WWG1WGA.

Just last week, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene won a House of Representative primary in Georgia. Taylor Green has openly pledged her support to the conspiracy movement. With her now almost open path to Congress, QAnon could rise to further prominence soon.

Even more concerning, Taylor Greene is not an outlier. More than 60 former or current candidates for the US Congress either co-opted or disseminated QAnon claims.

All despite the FBI classifying QAnon as a domestic terrorism threat as early as 2019. For valid reasons: in several violent incidents, the perpetrators cited QAnon as justification.

The Traits of a Cult?

Moreover, the QAnon legend uses all the essential factors of a conspiracy myth but also has many characteristics of a fringe sect or cult. It provides clear enemy images, universal explanatory models for all processes, and apocalyptic visions while negating the existence of coincidences and complex relationships.

Evidence to the contrary is not possible in their narrative. Q provides its followers the feeling of being part of an elite that possesses secret knowledge and is fighting for good. The QAnon legends show references to apocalyptic, religious motifs such as a prophesied final battle between good and evil. QAnon builds on existing resentments – for example, against the media and so-called elites. Anti-Semitic patterns can also be seen in the conspiracy legends.

Trump on QAnon: ‘I Understand They Like Me Very Much, Which I Appreciate’

Nonetheless, President Trump has continuously shared QAnon Tweets. Moreover, he has yet to distance himself from it.

“I do not know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” Trump said at a White House press briefing.

Trump had been asked for his thoughts about QAnon a week after he celebrated the victory of Marjorie Taylor Greene. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up – a real WINNER!” Trump tweeted after Greene’s victory.

When asked about QAnon supporters believing he was saving the world “from a Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” Trump said: “But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I am willing to put myself out there.”

After all, his government was already saving the world from “radical left philosophy,” he added.

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