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screenshot via CNN and Jezebel

WTF are QAnon supporters and why is Anonymous going after them?

The hackivists have made it clear: ‘We will not sit idly by while you take advantage of the misinformed and poorly educated’

Anonymous – the decentralised hacking group that’s gone after Isis, rapists, the Church of Scientology, and the Ku Klux Klan – issued a warning against followers of conspiracy theory QAnon and its mysterious leader Q. “We gonna wreck you,” an Anonymous video claimed in a distorted voice. “Someone is going to get hurt, so we have to put our foot down and start some shit with you all."

“We have plans,” the video continues, cut with animations and cartoons like Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch. “We will not sit idly by while you take advantage of the misinformed and poorly educated.” 

As Vice News reports, Anonymous has begun doxxing QAnon followers on Twitter, sharing full names, phone numbers, addresses and emails online. One of these people includes a man who runs, a site that collates Q theories and evidence. 

In one video, Anonymous detailed that they had originally found the online theory funny and pathetic, their concerns mounted as the group mutated into “a deformed Alex Jones conspiracy thought bubble.”


QAnon, for the uninitiated, is an online conspiracy theory that’s bled into real life – growing numbers of Q supporters have joined Trump rallies with t-shirts and Q placards and IRL action has started. It began on 4Chan and 8Chan in the prolonged wake of Pizzagate, beginning with one post on 4chan's Politically Incorrect messageboard titled ‘Bread Crumbs’. An anonymous person or collective known as Q, believed to be a person or group with high-level access to the government started to share cryptic, supposedly leaked pieces of information. It has since mutated into a huge conspiracy surrounding U.S president Donald Trump. It’s also known widely as “The Storm”.

“The Storm” whipped up when in October 2017, Trump said during a photo op that their military dinner event was “maybe the calm before the storm.” When asked to clarify by a reporter he responded, “You’ll find out.” A few weeks later, the first Q post arrived. 


Q has dropped a pretty wide and complex range of info to a growing, devoted follower base who then go onto interpret the meaning: there’s claims that the Democrats are running a child sex trafficking ring, and that high profile Democrats are practicing Satanists. Followers have been led to believe that, alongside celebrities, politicians are working in a complicated crime network – with drugs, child abuse, and murder – to bring down Trump.

Tenuous links have been made between Q theories and Trump – as Quartz reports, followers have referenced ‘Q’ being the 17th letter of the alphabet, a number Trump has referenced offhand in speeches and tweets. Even typos in Trump’s tweets have been used to claim he’s totally in on it. Followers believe he’s working against the ‘deep state’ elites and criminals. 

Some of Q’s claims have been completely unfounded: for example, that Hillary Clinton would be arrested by a certain date that’s come and gone, and that a video of the politician chopping a child’s face off would surface. Followers have easily explained these away, claiming Clinton and Obama are wearing ankle tags and trackers.


Since 4Chan, the theorists have moved onto 8Chan, Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and a mobile app called QDrops. The Reddit community has around 50,000 followers. More and more we see Q followers in real life at marches, like Trump’s huge Tampa, Florida rally, where people held ‘We are Q’ signs and t-shirts. A more recent Pennsylvania rally saw followers talk openly about their beliefs with CNN. Billboards have popped up in Oklahoma and Atlanta promoting QAnon. 

Roseanne Barr, who had her television show cancelled for a racist tweet against Valerie Jarret, a senior advisor to Obama, has voiced her support for the theory. 

Back in June, a man in Arizona blocked traffic with an armoured vehicle with a sign that read “release the OIG report” – it’s a popular demand from QAnon followers, who believe Trump is withholding a report from the Inspector General which links Obama and Clinton to a sex ring.


Well, duh. But also, Buzzfeed noted that the QAnon scenario playing out is similar to the plot of Q, a 1999 novel, where a group of 10 people with high security clearance exist. Q supporters refute this claim, stating that president Kennedy faked his death the same year to reflect the novel’s storyline. The authors of the book told Buzzfeed they believe Q to ultimately be a hoax by left-wing activists trolling the right.

“Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There's no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who's pulling it on whom?” authors Roberto Bui, Giovanni Cattabriga, Federico Guglielmi, and Luca Di Meo said.

Some on-the-nose film references have also been used across the community – its motto “where we go one, we go all” is derived from the 1996 film White Squall, and messages have included the “follow the white rabbit” bit from The Matrix.

Anonymous has also claimed that a troll they rejected from the group years before started QAnon, while others claim it’s all a LARPing experience.

And like already mentioned, the majority of Q’s posts and claims are hilariously off the mark and false. No, Kim Jong Un is not in power in North Korea because of the CIA. The others are completely nonsensical and garbled, which thousands devotedly disset and interpret into something disturbing. 


“What the QAnon theory does, as far as political efficacy goes, is it provides Trump’s most fervent supporters a way to explain away any scandal or slip-up the president may face,” Jared Holt, a research associate for Right Wing Watch, told NBC News. Despite presidential fuck ups just about every day, followers remain unswayed.

“It reinforces the idea that Trump is a sort of heroic figure that is going to save America, which was a big line of the campaign,” Holt adds.

Joseph Uscinski, an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami, told Quartz that QAnon has become so popular because it’s “fun”. “You have somebody putting out these breadcrumbs and clues – it gives people something to do.” 

Uscinski also warned that, as QAnon followers become more bold in the real world, the threat of violence is more urgent. “Eventually somebody is going to fight fire with fire,” he tells Quartz. “If you think there are groups in secret molesting children, somebody is going to take action against them.” This is what exactly happened in 2016: the Pizzagate conspiracy theory saw one man take an assault rifle to a pizza restaurant in Washington DC, after becoming convinced by the online theory that it was fronting a paedophile ring. 

Michael Wood, a psychologist who focuses on conspiracies, told TIME: “Trump hasn’t talked about Q specifically, but the popularity of Q probably owes something to Trump’s general usage of conspiracy theories — on the campaign trail, in speeches, in tweets and so on.

Wood references Trump’s own investment in conspiracy theories – Obama’s birth certificate or Ted Cruz’s citizenship for example – as a reason for Q’s rise. “People’s idea of what are acceptable political beliefs depends, to some extent, on what kind of cues they get from political elites. Trump is, by usual standards of U.S. politics, quite a conspiracy theorist. So it makes sense that his base has followed suit.”