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QAnon: Paranoid Trumpers on Steroids


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From before Parler was shutdown:  

Free pardons for everyone! Confess here!  

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Cartmann99
5 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

More info about QAnon.

 

This will not dissuade those who are fully committed:

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The thread is here if you wish to read the whole thing, I've copied some of it below:

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If you read the article in the tweet that @GreyhoundFan posted above, you'll find this:

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QAppAnon, the online name of qmap’s creator, also runs a Patreon account, which receives more than $3,000 a month in donations, according to the Patreon site. In March, QAppAnon announced on Patreon an upcoming Android app named “Armor of God,” a social network for followers of QAnon.

In Armor of God’s Google Play Store profile, the service describes itself as a platform “designed for patriots worldwide to create and share content including prayers, news, memes and posts.” The developer’s email address listed on the Google Play page is “[email protected]

According to New Jersey state business records, Patriot Platforms LLC’s address matches Gelinas’s home address. After a Bloomberg News investigation, the Armor of God app was no longer accessible on the Google Play store.

According to its website, Patriot Platforms “is a technology company building next generation social media applications and tools.” The description is similar to the buisness purpose stated on the New Jersey business record linked to Gelinas’s home address: “create next generation news and social media platforms.”As of Friday, the Patriot Platforms website was also offline.

So, Gelinas has been making over $36,000 a year from the QAnon faithful, and some of them want to give him even more money. :doh:Between the salary he made as an information security analyst at Citigroup, and his side hustles, he's been doing pretty well for himself financially. Then again, he appears to have been freebasing the nuttery just like his supporters, so he may only have a warehouse full of vitamin-enriched Holy Gun Liberty Patriot Jesus Family Freedom Water and some old doom buckets to show for his efforts. :shrug:

The guy who started the Twitter thread above:

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I was stunned, stunned I tell you, to learn that he wants the QAnon faithful to come hear him speak:

Spoiler

 

The cheapest tickets to that conference are $300. :hand:

American Priority has people like James O'Keefe, Charlie Kirk, Wayne Root, Tom Fitton, Laura Loomer, Jack Posobiec, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Dinesh D'Souza, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Donnie Jr. among their former speakers. :562479906e9ac_ohnoes:

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Cartmann99

:shakehead:

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GreyhoundFan

If JFK Jr were actually alive, I can't imagine he'd want to associate with the mango moron:

 

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Sarah Wilson (yeah, the I Quit Sugar chick) on the intersection between the wellness industry and Q Anon conspiracy theories.

"There’s a woman I know running a wellness coaching business in Sydney’s eastern suburbs who tells me Trump is a “light worker”.

There are people who “follow” me – mums making their own bone broth, yoga teachers posting Rumi memes – who believe the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, is storing kids in tunnels under Melbourne’s CBD. When he’s not giving daily Covid-19 press conferences in his reassuring polar fleece, they tell me, he is involved in a global child sex trafficking cabal."

Given how busy Andrews is with the pandemic, not to mention the looming economic impact, I find it impressive he has the time. /sarcasm

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Cartmann99

Good article about Jason Gelinas and how he got involved with QAnon:

QAnon High Priest Was Just Trolling Away as a Citigroup Tech Executive

Quote

Jason Gelinas lived a normal suburban life with a plum Wall Street gig. He also ran the conspiracy theory’s biggest news hub.

By William Turton  and Joshua Brustein

Like many future Donald Trump voters, Jason Gelinas felt something shift inside him during the presidency of Barack Obama. Things were going OK for him generally. He had a degree from Fordham University and had held a series of jobs at big financial-services firms, eventually becoming a senior vice president at Citigroup in the company’s technology department, where he led an AI project and oversaw a team of software developers. He was married with kids and had a comfortable house in a New Jersey suburb. According to those who know him, Gelinas was a pleasant guy who was into normal stuff: Game of Thrones, recreational soccer, and so on. Things did get weird, though, when politics came up.

Gelinas had registered as a Democrat in the runup to the 2008 election, but then seemed to drift to the right, and not in an “I’m going to vote for Romney this time” sort of way, according to two friends, who spoke to Bloomberg Businessweek on the condition of anonymity because they didn’t want to be associated with what came next in his political journey. “He hated the idea of Obama,” says one. “He thought that it was a setup and that he was elected to satisfy the Black population.” Gelinas would become agitated when the topic of the president came up, sometimes referring to Obama as “the Antichrist.”

He was increasingly immersed in right-wing internet conspiracies, telling a friend that Hillary Clinton was at the center of a global cabal of sex traffickers. This was about the time that online trolls were starting to promote a theory known as Pizzagate, which claimed that Clinton and others were holding children hostage in the basement of Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant and concert venue in Washington, D.C. Shortly after Trump was elected president, a follower burst into the restaurant and fired an AR-15 rifle, standing down only after discovering that the building didn’t actually have a basement. (Nobody was hurt. The shooter, who said he’d been misled by what he’d read on the internet, pleaded guilty to firearms charges and was sentenced to four years in prison.)

Some might have taken that incident as a sign to cool down. Gelinas appears to have gone deeper down the rabbit hole, finding his way to an even stranger movement, QAnon. Like Pizzagate believers, QAnon’s are focused on a supposed cabal of pedophiliac liberals, mostly politicians and celebrities. The twist is that QAnon has an apocalyptic component—it holds that, at some point, President Trump will unleash “the Storm,” a military coup that will expose and punish this cabal. QAnon has spurred enough violence that the FBI has labeled it a domestic terrorism threat. Supporters have been implicated in the death of a Staten Island mob boss and in the derailment of a train in California.

Even so, the movement had been contained mostly to the internet’s trollish fringes until around the time Gelinas came along. In 2018, while doing his job at Citi, he created, as an anonymous side project, a website dedicated to bringing QAnon to a wider audience—soccer moms, white-collar workers, and other “normies,” as he boasted. By mid-2020, the site, QMap.pub, was drawing 10 million visitors each month, according to the traffic-tracking firm SimilarWeb, and was credited by researchers with playing a key role in what might be the most unlikely political story in a year full of unlikely political stories: A Citigroup executive helped turn an obscure and incoherent cult into an incoherent cult with mainstream political implications.

In January the House of Representatives will almost certainly welcome its first QAnon supporter, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who’s running without serious competition in a district in northwest Georgia, and many other candidates for public office have professed support for aspects of the movement. The Trump campaign has sometimes asked people not to display QAnon signs at rallies, but they show up all the time anyway. QAnon supporters were also ready with an easy spin on the biggest threat to the president’s hold on power: his own Covid-19 diagnosis. Trump wasn’t sick, the theory goes, he merely retreated from the public eye so that the Storm could begin.image.png.6ed99a6fec8ad9afee4dacb7875dbb8b.png

 

Comet Ping Pong in 2016.

Photographer: Matt McClain/Getty Images

Because it’s so much more involved than a typical conspiracy theory, QAnon has often been described as a religious movement—and, like many religions, the core of the belief system stems from revelations in a foundational text. In this case, that text didn’t appear on stone tablets handed from a mountaintop or on golden plates buried in the ground in upstate New York, but through a series of cryptic postings on a website best known for racist memes and the manifestoes of mass shooters. Ironically, for a movement obsessed with the evils of pedophilia, the site, 4chan, was also known as a place to download child pornography.

The revelation was delivered on Oct. 28, 2017, and came from a user calling him or herself QAnon. This person, who claimed to be a government employee with top-secret “q-level” clearance (a real thing in the Department of Energy), said Clinton would be arrested in two days and that the event would set off massive organized riots. At the time, 4chan was full of similar nonsense attributed to highly placed government officials. But QAnon—or simply Q—caught on in a way that competing accounts such as FBIAnon and CIAAnon didn’t. The user became the narrator of a tale that cast Trump as the central hero in an epic global struggle, doling out the story in thousands of posts known as “Q drops,” first on 4chan, then on the even more outré 8chan and its successor site, 8kun.

The identity of Q has been a subject of speculation since the beginning. The theories are all over the place, variously suggesting that Q is Edward Snowden, or former national security adviser Michael Flynn, or the conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones, or even Trump himself. One self-published book, which Amazon.com Inc. includes for free as part of its Kindle Unlimited subscription, claims to have used a mathematical model to determine that Q is former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake. Drake has denied this—but Q would do that, wouldn’t he?

If Q’s drops are the new movement’s divine revelations, its rites involve the production and consumption of videos and social media posts—often screenshots annotated with arrows and circles revealing hidden connections—designed to interpret them. “Digging deeper,” Q’s followers often call it. Just a few minutes before 1 p.m. on Father’s Day 2018, for instance, Q and Trump each posted a Happy Father’s Day message. Coincidence? Or how about this August, when Trump visited a Whirlpool Corp. plant in Ohio and posed in front of 17 washing machines? Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet. Surely this was the president signaling that Q was going to clean things up. Or maybe it had something to do with money laundering?

At first, the primary documents for Q were available only to the bravest of web surfers. Most regular people don’t spend much time on 8kun, which is awful in terms of content and interface design. The need to spread the word beyond core users led to the creation of aggregator sites, which would scrape the Q drops and repost them in friendlier environs after determining authenticity. (The ability to post as Q has repeatedly been compromised, and some posts have had to be culled from the canon.) This task, Gelinas once told a friend, could be his calling from God.

On April 5, 2018, Q posted a short message—drop No. 1,030—insinuating that a recent spate of military aircraft crashes was part of a “silent war.” Later that night, Gelinas registered QMap.pub. His intention, as he later explained on Patreon, the crowdfunding website widely used by musicians, podcasters, and other artists, was to make memes, which are harder to police than tweets or Facebook text posts. “Memes are awesome,” Gelinas wrote. “They also bypass big tech censorship.” (Social media companies are, at least in theory, opposed to disinformation, and QAnon posts sometimes get removed. On Oct. 6, Facebook banned QAnon-affiliated groups and pages from the service.)

Gelinas raised thousands of dollars on Patreon each month, posting updates using his pseudonym, QAppAnon. “Like many of you, I felt that something wasn’t right in the world, that our country was headed in the wrong direction,” he wrote. “Then something magical happened in 2016 that defied expectations—a complete outsider to the political establishment, Donald J Trump, won the presidential election! Amazing. A glimmer of light in the darkness.” A few months into the Trump administration, Gelinas changed his party affiliation to Republican, and this spring he contributed $200 to Trump’s reelection efforts—his first-ever political contribution, according to federal disclosures.

QMap developed into a central place for fans to read the drops, to plot, and to commiserate on the site’s “Where We Go One We Go All Prayer Wall.” The site wasn’t just a repository of QAnon posts; Gelinas served as an active co-author in the movement’s growing mythology. The clean, minimalist site was designed around tiles dedicated to each Q drop, which Gelinas titled to make them easier to understand. Tabs across the top enabled users to sort by theme or tags, and the hidden players and themes were explicated along the left side with a series of icons—a few chess pieces, a globe, a skull. Brief descriptions sorted “players” by category. (French President Emmanuel Macron and New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman are in the “Traitor/Pawn” category; Senator Ted Cruz is a “Patriot.”)

QMap also had a tab for suspicious deaths. John McCain didn’t die from brain cancer, according to QMap. “One theory is that he was secretly tried [by] military tribunal and sentenced to death,” the site said. Q had never made these claims explicitly; they were insinuated by his posts, then interpreted by QMap. “It was all laid out in a way where someone could easily start to believe it’s all true,” says Joe Ondrak, a researcher for Logically.ai, a fact-checking website that follows the movement. “It was like a redpill factory.” (“Redpill” is a reference to the movie The Matrix, in which characters who want to see the world as it actually is take a tablet of that color. It’s been adopted by right-wing activists to connote the conversion of new believers.)

One young QAnon supporter encouraged QMap to annotate posts with supporting evidence and links to additional reading materials, providing “background info for the uninformed so that even his grandma could understand what’s going on,” Gelinas wrote approvingly on Patreon in the summer of 2018. “What a great idea. It’s hard to jump into Q if you haven’t been following it closely.”

On Patreon, he laid out a plan to add a team, which he hoped would be staffed by disaffected software developers. “Facebook devs: how mad are you. You’ve been lied to,” Gelinas wrote on Twitter in March 2019. “Your talents have been used/abused for evil purposes. Let’s build a new platform for the GOOD of Humanity.”

By this point, Gelinas claimed he was the No. 2 figure in the movement, behind only Q, according to a friend, and began to dream about turning his QAnon hobby into his main gig. “Who knows, maybe QMAP becomes the media platform of the future one day? :-)” he mused in early September.

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8chan creator Fredrick Brennan.

Photographer: Ted Aljibe/Getty Images

By now, QMap’s growth had attracted an enemy. Frederick Brennan, a 26-year-old polymath with a rare bone disease, had decided to unmask the person behind QMap. Brennan was a reformed troll. He’d created 8chan, but he had a change of heart after the man responsible for the 2019 mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, posted his manifesto on the forum in advance and inscribed 8chan memes on the weapons he used to kill 56 people.

Brennan had come to believe that Jim Watkins, an American entrepreneur who’d taken over 8chan and its successor site, 8kun, was somehow involved in QAnon. The mixture of regret over what the sites he’d started had become and the grudge against Watkins, who runs 8kun from his pig farm in the Philippines, had sent Brennan on a mission to bring down the site and QAnon. Watkins did not respond to a request for comment.

Brennan started by trying to figure out which companies were operating servers that hosted 8chan’s content. Then he would post public messages, on Twitter and elsewhere, urging the companies to cut ties with the site. After 8chan was dropped by the cybersecurity company Cloudflare Inc., which protected it from denial of service, or DDoS, attacks, it found safe harbor in a new U.S.-based DDoS protection company, VanwaTech LLC, which had taken an extremely permissive attitude toward controversial content. “If it’s legal, I don’t care,” says 23-year-old chief executive officer Nick Lim.

This summer, Gelinas also moved his site to VanwaTech. This made him a target of Brennan, who also began pressuring Patreon to block Gelinas’s site. He referred to QMap in a tweet as “the main vector for Q radicalization.” QMap, Brennan explains in an interview, helped “turn this anonymous format into a way people can be notified immediately.”

Patreon never banned QMap, and Gelinas took down all his posts on the crowdfunding site after he was identified as QMap’s owner. In messages exchanged over WhatsApp, he told Bloomberg Businessweek that he has no connection to Watkins and has never met him. He said he began using VanwaTech because it protected QMap from frequent DDoS attacks.

Ondrak, the fact-checker, and Nick Backovic, another Logically.ai researcher, joined Brennan’s hunt. It took Ondrak and Backovic only a few days to trace an email address associated with Patriot Platforms LLC, which had been listed as the publisher of a QMap mobile app in Google’s Android app store, to a post office box in Berkeley Heights, N.J. The next day, the pair published a story outing Gelinas as the operator of QMap. Public records show that Gelinas is the sole employee associated with Patriot Platforms, and New Jersey business records obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek list the company’s address as a house in the same town, a few miles from the P.O. box.

On the morning of Sept. 10, a reporter drove to the house. It was a beautiful day in suburban New Jersey. Gelinas, in shorts and an American flag cap, was in the front yard, filling up a wheelbarrow with cut-up tree stumps.

Gelinas is tall and fit at age 43. He clearly didn’t want to talk. He paced around his yard, mostly evading questions, while the reporter stood in the grass. He first said he wasn’t Q, though he did allow that he was familiar with QAnon, which he described as “a patriotic movement to save the country.” Finally, his wife opened the front door and rescued him with a vague request for technical assistance. “I don’t want to get involved, I want to stay out of it,” Gelinas said before he disappeared into the house and, rather than asking the reporter to leave, called the authorities. A few minutes later, after the reporter had left the property, two police SUVs showed up.

That afternoon, QMap.pub and the social media profiles of Gelinas and his wife disappeared from the internet. Within days, Citi had put him on administrative leave and his name was removed from the company’s internal directory. He was later terminated. “Mr. Gelinas is no longer employed by Citi,” the company says in a statement. “Our code of conduct includes specific policies that employees are required to adhere to, and when breaches are identified, the firm takes action.”

In the weeks after he was outed, Gelinas mostly ignored reporters’ calls and text messages, though he did acknowledge he was the only developer for QMap and clarified several other points. “I’m not going to talk about my own story right now,” he said. “When the time is right, it will come out.”

 

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A Trump supporter in Portland, Ore., displays a flag with a reference to QAnon on Sept. 7.

Photographer: Carlos Barria/Reuters

QMap’s disappearance has been a significant but temporary setback for the QAnon movement. “It’s not going to be a death blow to the QAnon community, but it is a disruption,” says Travis View, a conspiracy theory researcher who hosts a podcast dedicated to QAnon. QMap popped back online a few days later, but it now consists entirely of links to other QAnon aggregator websites.

Google has tried to make it harder to find such QAnon sites by keeping them from showing up in searches, and Facebook and Twitter have blocked links to them, though posts about Q are easy to find on Facebook and other social networks such as Telegram. Followers also sometimes spread the word about Q-related sites by writing their URLs on signs and holding them up at Trump rallies.

Meanwhile, Gelinas’s project of bringing the gospel of Q to the mainstream is alive and well. Late this summer and early this fall, Q supporters organized a wave of in-person rallies, ostensibly to combat human trafficking, many of them under the social media hashtag #SaveTheChildren. Some established anti-trafficking groups, including the real Save the Children, a 101-year-old British nonprofit, complained they were being co-opted in dangerous ways.

Janja Lalich, a professor emerita of sociology at California State University at Chico who’s studied cults for decades, says internet movements such as QAnon have grown at an alarming rate, because of a political debate that’s become increasingly unmoored from a set of universally agreed-upon facts. “It’s times like these that cults can thrive,” she says. “We have leadership that has tried very hard to change our relationship with reality, and people are grasping at straws. The last four years have been precedent-setting in creating an atmosphere of disbelief.”

 

 

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47of74

Jason is out of a job now 

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Citigroup Inc. terminated a manager in its technology department following an investigation into his role as the operator of the most prominent website dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Jason Gelinas had been placed on paid leave after he was identified on Sept. 10 by the fact-checking site Logically.ai as the operator of the website QMap.pub and its associated mobile apps.

“Mr. Gelinas is no longer employed by Citi,” the company said in a statement. “Our code of conduct includes specific policies that employees are required to adhere to, and when breaches are identified, the firm takes action.”

Citigroup’s code of conduct says employees seeking to engage in any outside business activity where they receive compensation have to disclose that information to managers before participating. Gelinas was earning more than $3,000 a month from a crowdfunded Patreon site dedicated to supporting the QAnon site, which he said helped cover the monthly operating costs.

Thoughts and prayers asshole. 

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Audrey2
43 minutes ago, GreyhoundFan said:

 

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To quote JK Rowling and to paraphrase Louis Armstrong, "if you have to ask you'll never know."

If you have to ask why there has not been an outbreak amongst mask wearing Democrats of covid, you'll never know.

You wouldn't believe it anyway because... Science.

Edited by Audrey2
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GreyhoundFan
15 minutes ago, JMarie said:

(account suspended by Twitter)

I wish they'd suspend the tangerine toddler's account.

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fraurosena
4 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

I wish they'd suspend the tangerine toddler's account.

Not a chance of that happening, I’m afraid. His constant tweeting generates so much traffic (i.e. money) on the site, you see. It would be like killing the goose with the golden eggs.
 

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Cartmann99

 

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AnywhereButHere

We were watching The West Wing last night (John de Lancie was in a few episodes), and which prompted my husband to say - "Every time someone references Q, this is who I expect." 

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Destiny
29 minutes ago, AnywhereButHere said:

We were watching The West Wing last night (John de Lancie was in a few episodes), and which prompted my husband to say - "Every time someone references Q, this is who I expect." 

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Same Mr. Here, SAME. I sometimes like this Q. 

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GreyhoundFan

I liked him best on Voyager. He had great chemistry with Kate Mulgrew:

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Cartmann99

For some of the QAnon believers, today is the day when JFK Jr. reveals to the world that he's alive and replaces Pence on the Republican ticket.

:cray-cray:

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JMarie
2 hours ago, Cartmann99 said:

For some of the QAnon believers, today is the day when JFK Jr. reveals to the world that he's alive and replaces Pence on the Republican ticket.

:cray-cray:

This is wrong for so many reasons:

-- Trump would never pick a running mate who could upstage him

-- Trump would never pick someone better looking than him, and JFK Jr. was People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive (1988)

-- Trump would never pick a Democrat as a running mate

-- and, oh yeah, JFK Jr. is deceased

Though I might vote for a Kennedy-Trump ticket. A Kennedy in the White House again, and Trump sequestered behind the scenes.

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Cartmann99

 

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Cartmann99

The Right’s Disinformation Machine Is Getting Ready for Trump to Lose

QAnon has become a linchpin of far-right media—and the effort to preemptively delegitimize the election.

by Renée DiResta

Technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory

Quote

Whether President Donald Trump wins or loses, some version of QAnon is going to survive the election. On the day of the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, the individual or group known as “Q” sent out a flurry of posts. “ONLY THE ILLUSION OF DEMOCRACY,” began one. “Joe 30330—Arbitrary?—What is 2020 [current year] divided by 30330? Symbolism will be their downfall,” read another, darkly hinting at satanic numerology in Joe Biden’s campaign text-messaging code. Vague, foreboding messages that could mean anything or nothing—these are the hallmarks of QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory, built around Q’s postings on internet message boards, in which Trump is heroically battling a global cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles. But something noteworthy lurked in Q’s final post of the night: “SHADOW PRESIDENT. SHADOW GOVERNMENT. INFORMATION WARFARE. IRREGULAR WARFARE. COLOR REVOLUTION. INSURGENCY.”

Color revolution. This was the first time Q used the term. Originally a reference to mass protests such as the one in Ukraine in 2004, when citizens wearing orange clothes and carrying orange banners rallied to bring down a government, it became a catchphrase that authoritarian governments use to discredit pro-democracy movements as the handiwork of the CIA. Q was using color revolution in just that way.

Read: The prophecies of Q

My team’s research at the Stanford Internet Observatory tracks the way malign narratives spread online. The notion that so-called deep-state insiders and Democrats are orchestrating a color revolution against Trump had been rippling across various factions of the stridently pro-Trump media ecosystem since mid-August. Early claims appeared in pronouncements by the firebrand conservative blogger and former Trump speechwriter Darren Beattie, which were then repeated and shared by prominent right-wing influencers on Twitter and YouTube. These powerful voices claimed that street protests, ballot-mishandling incidents, and the like were not spontaneous or disparate events; rather, they formed a pattern of evidence revealing a plot to steal the election from Trump. Even presidential-debate commissioners were supposedly involved.

The theory leapt from blogs and a podcast with Steve Bannon to Fox News, where Beattie pushed it out to Tucker Carlson’s audience—4 million viewers on a typical night. The conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck dedicated entire episodes of his talk show to solemnly diagramming how the color revolution might unfold. Other conservative blogs, influencers, and YouTube channels began to broach the idea. So did ordinary people, who shared this media content on social networks, spreading the narrative across dozens of large right-wing interest groups on Facebook. Q was merely appropriating and amplifying a conspiracy theory invented elsewhere. But by picking it up, Q ensured that it would reach many more people.

Renée DiResta: The conspiracies are coming from inside the house

All of this revealed a couple of things: First, the machine that moves information through the far-right ecosystem is preparing its audience for the very real chance that Trump will lose. Its goal is simple—to preemptively delegitimize any outcome but a clear victory by the incumbent. Second, QAnon, whose adherents have deep ties to countless other large communities, has become a linchpin in that ecosystem, and the absurdity of its claims in no way reduces its political influence.

QAnon is pure fantasy, but, when asked about it during his NBC town hall Thursday, the president of the United States conspicuously declined to condemn it.

Influence is now a function of the brute ability to propel information between broadcast and social-media channels, and across online factions. By that measure, QAnon is remarkably effective. Its supporters turned out for the Georgia congressional hopeful Marjorie Taylor Greene and other primary candidates who endorse it—a sign that QAnon’s influence has extended to conferring political power. And, as the general election approaches, the people behind QAnon are taking steps to ensure the continuation of this influence in some way.

QAnon has the outlines of a classic whistleblower tale: A bureaucrat with a high-level security clearance issued by the Department of Energy chose to reveal the secret workings of the U.S. government to the people. Unlike whistleblowers past, however, Q decided to deliver the truth on message boards, such as 4chan and 8kun, used by internet trolls. Building off the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and speaking in short riddles, Q rallied these followers to cheer for Trump in his secret fight against a powerful cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles who harvest the blood of children. These claims are obviously bonkers. Nevertheless, QAnon’s early disciples delivered the conspiracy theory to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, where it could reach a more mainstream audience.

Thomas Wright: Large-scale political unrest is unlikely, but not impossible

By the time Q’s first post appeared on 4chan in 2017, conspiracy theories of all sorts were multiplying and thriving on social media, as their adherents formed dedicated Facebook groups and YouTube channels. Algorithmic recommendation engines accelerated their growth and cross-pollinated their beliefs. Over time, these engines nudged anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers to join QAnon groups and pushed QAnon videos to far-right political communities. The algorithms didn’t comprehend what they were recommending; they detected the probability that an anti-vaxxer or a flat-earther would like certain postings and communities, but not whether those postings or communities were inherently harmful. The recommendations worked: People who followed other conspiracy theories often were receptive to QAnon, primarily because of a shared distrust of government and authority.

This algorithmic crossbreeding turned QAnon into a mutant omni–conspiracy theory that blended together the pet catechisms of its constituent sub–conspiracy theories. Anti-vaxxers noticed when Q included “VACCINES [NOT ALL]” in a post that began, “MONEY. POWER. CONTROL.”—and went on to list a litany of bad things, including wars, tobacco, and opioids. People who believe that shape-shifting lizards have infiltrated the political elite can find thousands of posts about the subject on QAnon-community research boards. Over a period of two years, QAnon groups evolved into a full-blown alternative reality in which John F. Kennedy Jr. lives and COVID-19 is a hoax. Individuals shared QAnon material with other communities they’d been part of for some time, including mundane, normally non-conspiracist groups devoted to wellness and parenting. Hundreds of thousands to millions of individuals gradually bought into some portion of the alternative reality as it traveled across the internet.

But QAnon Facebook groups and YouTube channels are only part of a more expansive game. Media and social media are no longer distinct; consequential narratives emerge from the bottom up, as well as the top down, and bounce back and forth among different channels. Positioned between internet message boards and mass outlets such as Fox News is a kind of demi-media—hyperpartisan outlets, such as Gateway Pundit and One America News, that have a significant following on social platforms, high engagement from audiences, and a history of boosting narratives that bubble up from internet users. These demi-media outlets, some of which have White House press credentials, routinely tell their audience that “the media” is lying, thereby positioning themselves as an entity apart. Years of repetition have seemingly rendered their audiences immune to any cognitive dissonance over this. Well-known news outlets make up stories, but a pseudonymous 8kun poster is a high-level pedophile-fighting bureaucrat who tells the truth.

In recent months, Facebook and YouTube have moved aggressively to interrupt the flow of disinformation, in part by banning QAnon groups and channels. More broadly, Facebook and Twitter have asserted their prerogative to slow the spread of iffy news stories and take down the musings of Holocaust deniers. But the moves against QAnon come too late. Even as the platforms have begun to take steps to limit the algorithmic amplification of content tied to QAnon-specific groups, already-converted true believers continue to act as pollinators themselves, pushing the QAnon view of current events into unrelated communities—Star Trek fans, essential-oil moms, the “reopen” groups campaigning against shutdowns imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. And in the right-wing demi-media, any actions by Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube against the QAnon groups are covered as further evidence of tech censorship run amok, and an ominous harbinger of the end of free speech.

This is how delegitimizing narratives spread. The threat of a “color revolution” is only the latest to expand through QAnon’s ready-made distribution channel. Amplifying prophecies about attacks on the legitimacy of the election ultimately positions QAnon to continue past November. If Trump loses, the prophecy of the deep-state color revolution will have come true, and Q will spin tales about the secret doings of an illegitimate new administration. If Trump wins, the exposure of the nefarious plot will have deterred the deep-state forces, and the battle against the cabal will continue.

Rebecca L. Spang: How revolutions happen

The question isn’t whether QAnon will persist past this presidential term; it’s in what form. The Q community has recently begun splintering into denominations and regional flavors, and this will likely accelerate as platforms target the movement’s most easily identifiable activity online. Other countries have their own QAnon believers, such as those in Germany who think that Trump will save them from the deep-state agent Angela Merkel. Another variant, from France, has become deeply entwined with the Yellow Vests movement. Also in evidence are a growing number of “cafeteria” Q followers, including the Instagram moms and wellness warriors who find certain facets of the Q canon appealing even as they reject the surreal details of the origin story. They’re “allegories,” declared the editor of a German far-right magazine who put a big Q on the cover of its August 2020 issue but told The New York Times that he doesn’t believe the part about the pedophiles. Each subcommunity has influencers guiding members’ spiritual journey, producing content for them to share.

Social platforms will keep kicking out the Q communities they find, and media outlets are assessing how to cover the movement without encouraging it. Yet recent structural changes to the information ecosystem are permanent. “We are the media now,” Q’s adherents claim, but QAnon is only a symptom of a much larger transformation. If you can make color revolution or some other outlandish narrative trend, you can make it true—or at least true enough for thousands or even millions to believe. QAnon is just the start.

 

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GreyhoundFan

I'm sure the RWNJs will be crying and screaming about this.

image.png.975184dcb66e1db2df028bf2a40ffc80.png

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GreyhoundFan

"‘My faith is shaken’: The QAnon conspiracy theory faces a post-Trump identity crisis"

Spoiler

President Trump’s election loss and the week-long silence of “Q,” the QAnon movement’s mysterious prophet, have wrenched some believers into a crisis of faith, with factions voicing unease about their future or rallying others to stay calm and “trust the plan.”

The uncertainty has been compounded by the abrupt public resignation, also last Tuesday, of Ron Watkins, the administrator of Q’s online sanctuary on the message board 8kun.

Q has gone quiet before. But the abrupt lack of posts since last Tuesday — Election Day, which the anonymous figure had touted for months as a key moment of reckoning — has sparked speculation and alarm among the movement’s most ardent followers.

Some QAnon proponents have begun to publicly grapple with reality and question whether the conspiracy theory is a hoax. “Have we all been conned?” one user wrote Saturday on 8kun.

Wrote another: “HOW CAN I SPEAK TO Q???? MY FAITH IS SHAKEN. I FOLLOWED THE PLAN. TRUMP LOST!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT NOW?????? WHERE IS THE PLAN???”

Trump’s defeat threatens to undermine the tale that Q, a supposed top-secret government operative, has woven over years: that Trump and his allies would soon vanquish a cabal of “deep state” child abusers and Satan-worshiping Democrats, exiling some to the U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

QAnon believers treat Q’s thousands of cryptic posts as scripture, and many stretch to connect them to real-world events, often in nonsensical ways. Some prominent Q believers said Trump’s back-to-back golf outings over the weekend were proof that the president was in control and that all was going according to plan.

Others connected Rudolph W. Giuliani’s bizarre Saturday news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, on an industrial block in Philadelphia between a crematorium and an adult-video store, with two Q posts in the past year in which he used the words “landscape.”

One QAnon account, known as Praying Medic, told its more than 400,000 Twitter followers that many supporters “had to be talked off the ledge” in the past week but that Trump’s strategy remained in motion. Praying Medic tweeted: “He’s going to stick the knife in and twist it. He has no plans to leave office. Ever.”

Travis View, a researcher and co-host of the podcast “QAnon Anonymous,” said he expects that whoever is behind the Q “drops” — as Q’s messages are known — is just waiting to see how things shake out. Q has disappeared for weeks at a time before, shaking some loyalists, including during a three-month absence last year following a public revolt over the message board’s ties to real-world terrorist attacks.

In the meantime, QAnon’s devoted fan base has been left to struggle with the meaning of Trump’s election loss — which many argue was actually a win.

“The majority reaction from QAnon followers has been outright denial,” View said. Many expect Trump will seal his reelection through his team’s so-far-unsuccessful legal skirmishes, and “if that doesn’t happen and Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, the cognitive dissonance will be absolutely as big as it’s ever been for QAnon followers.”

Many of Q’s posts read like conspiratorial gibberish. They generally outline how shadowy forces have gained power over the American republic and how Trump is cleverly working behind the scenes to engineer their destruction.

Q’s last “drop” featured an Abraham Lincoln quote about “a new birth of freedom,” an image of a big American flag and a YouTube link to the theme song of “The Last of the Mohicans,” the 1992 movie about the French and Indian War.

That YouTube page has itself become a town center for Q believers, with more than 35 million views and 27,000 comments. One of the most popularly voted comments reads: “It’s not just about trump, it’s good versus evil , light versus darkness! Victory of the light!!”

Q’s posts have no set schedule, and the network of pro-QAnon websites has sought to reassure anxious followers about Q’s absence since Election Day. “Q has been dark for 7 days,” the website Q Alerts states. “At times Q strategically goes dark for days, weeks or in some cases months. Be sure you have some type of Q Alerts in place so you are notified when Q drops again.”

“Do not worry. Do not be afraid. THERE IS A PLAN. IT IS A GOOD PLAN,” the QAnon supporter Major Patriot tweeted last week.

As QAnon’s influence and popularity grew since the first Q drop in 2017, a robust network of sites has emerged to assemble and aggregate Q’s posts for a broader global fan base. But Q’s posts continue to be released only on 8kun, the rickety message board once known as 8chan that revels in hateful bigotry and violent memes.

The site saw a major change of its own on Election Day, a few hours after Q’s last post, when Watkins tweeted that he was resigning following a “self-imposed civic duty protecting the final fortifications of online free speech.”

Ron Watkins and his father, 8kun owner Jim Watkins, are among the only people on the Web who can verify the authenticity of Q’s messages using a unique identifying code attached to each drop. The strange arrangement has fueled theories that the two are behind the Q persona, which both men have denied.

Ron Watkins said in an interview Monday with The Washington Post that he resigned to focus on “areas of my life that need some TLC,” including his health and marriage, and that he intended to devote more time to his new hobby of furniture-making, “building things with my hands and mastering a traditional craft.”

He said that his father — through the holding company Is It Wet Yet, which Jim Watkins founded in Mississippi last year — would take over the site, and that he had “no thoughts or insight into why Q” hadn’t posted in a week.

Asked for comment, Jim Watkins said only, “I never have time for you.”

It’s hard, however, to know the truth about Q’s next steps. Fredrick Brennan, who founded 8chan and worked with Jim and Ron Watkins until 2018, said that both men “lie constantly” and that “it’s so hard to even give them the minimum amount of trust.” (Jim Watkins earlier this year accused Brennan of “cyber libel” in the Philippines, where both men ran the company, after Brennan tweeted that he seemed to be “going senile.”)

The last week, Brennan said, has shown how much the movement has begun to grow beyond Q itself, as a core group of prominent pro-Trump influencers began pushing viewpoints beyond the anonymous figure’s central teachings. Many of those influencers have also sought to profit off their growing audiences through paid subscriptions and online sales.

Over the past week, Brennan said, “the major influencers have set themselves in narratives without Q saying anything.”

The election did provide QAnon believers some cause for optimism, including winning representation in Congress. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a booster of QAnon talking points, won her unopposed House race in Georgia. Lauren Boebert, who earlier this year said she hoped Q was real but who has since sought to distance herself from the conspiracy theory, also won a competitive race in Colorado.

They have also gained subtle nods of support from Trump’s political following. On a town hall stage last month, Trump said he knew nothing about QAnon but echoed one of its audience’s central talking points: that “they are very much against pedophilia.”

Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller further bolstered the conspiracy theory last month by baselessly claiming that Biden would incentivize “child trafficking on an epic global scale.” Trump’s former adviser Stephen K. Bannon also said on a podcast last month that QAnon “appears directionally to be correct.”

Rita Katz, the executive director of SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism, said she expects the QAnon following will continue to grow online, regardless of who created or operated its presence online.

“It’s a dangerous network. It’s a dangerous movement that truly believes that Biden and other Democrats are killing kids,” Katz said. “And now, with Biden’s projected victory, the QAnon movement believes with the same zealous certainty that the whole thing is a sham. And that’s a major problem, because … these aren’t a bunch of harmless keyboard warriors — they’re adherents of a movement that has resulted in real-life violence.”

The FBI said last year that QAnon and other “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” represented a major terrorism threat. Its supporters have been linked to kidnapping plots and violent threats, including in 2018, when an armed man in Arizona barricaded a bridge at the Hoover Dam with an armored truck.

QAnon followers have more recently pushed one another to keep the faith. On the far-right message board Gab, one user reposted a Q drop from June: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

For some core QAnon believers, who call themselves “digital soldiers,” the election seemed to fuel new calls for violent action in the real world.

“WAR,” one QAnon account wrote shortly after the race had been called on Saturday, in a tweet that has been retweeted more than 1,000 times. “Patriots will handle from here,” it read, alongside a “storm” emoji.

 

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CTRLZero
1 hour ago, GreyhoundFan said:

The FBI said last year that QAnon and other “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” represented a major terrorism threat.

A local "school of enlightenment," which we sometimes travel past, has placed big "Q" signs and Trump/Pence signs on its gates.  This is in a little town which has been pretty much taken over in the past couple of decades by the followers (maybe similar to Clearwater, FL/Scientology).  It's a grim reminder of how people will blindly follow anything.  My supervisor was a follower.  She seemed so sensible otherwise.  Never understood how she fell for it. 

Anyway, I was surprised that the "school" had combined forces with "Q."

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