QAnon: What is it and how did it originate?
Recently, there has been a lot of talk around QAnon after Twitter started banning thousands of accounts of users tweeting about it. QAnon is an umbrella term covering a set of conspiracy theories, which have become increasingly popular among the supporters of United States President Donald Trump. As the movement grows stronger in the US, let's take a look at what it actually is.
The origins of QAnon have been dated back to a post on 4chan by an anonymous account called "Q Clearance Patriot" in October 2017. The poster—who became known as "Q"—claimed to be a high-ranking intelligence officer with access to classified information about Trump's attempts to save the United States from a global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles operating a child sex-trafficking ring.
People have speculated that Q may be a single internet troll, or a group of people, or that Q's identity has changed over time. However, Q's identity remains unknown. Since Q started posting on 4chan, they moved to 8chan, and further shifted base to 8kun.
QAnon is the umbrella term that envelopes a set of conspiracy theories that falsely claim that the world is run by the global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles. According to QAnon followers, this cabal includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George Soros, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Pope Francis, and the Dalai Lama, among others, who are plotting against Trump.
Many QAnon followers believe Trump was recruited by top military generals to run for President to vanquish this cabal, and end its control over the media and politics. They also believe that members of the cabal kill and eat the children they molest to extract a life-extending chemical from their blood. The group keeps adding new claims to its "big tent" of conspiracy theories.
According to Q, the war against the cabal will culminate in 'The Storm', which is a reference to a cryptic remark made by Trump in October 2017. At the time, Trump had posed alongside top military generals saying: "You guys know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm." QAnon followers believe this, among others, are coded messages sent about the movement.
Trump, the hero figure of the QAnon followers, has never directly acknowledged them. However, he recently refused to speak against the group when asked about his support for Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene is a QAnon supporter from Georgia who won a Republican primary in a heavily conservative district. Trump has also shared several posts from QAnon followers on his social media accounts.
Although there is no record of a confirmed number of QAnon followers, there are possibly millions of people who align with the movement, according to a recent NBC News report. However, while many believe in the ideas of the movement, others reportedly treat QAnon as a source of entertainment, while some look at it as a massive multiplayer online game.
The movement has left people worried as it is not limited online. Many QAnon followers have been charged with committing serious crimes including one person who was accused of murdering a mafia boss in New York last year while another person was arrested earlier in April and accused of threatening to kill Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for the 2020 US Presidential race.