Joe Biden’s inauguration on the 20th of January was a cause of joy for many Americans and people worldwide. Whilst many were awaiting the inauguration ceremony in order to part with the painful memories left by the Trump administration once and for all, others were expecting yet another outcome. Some of the latter were QAnon followers, left disillusioned by the realization that the inauguration ceremony would in the end run smoothly and peacefully, with neither Trump remaining president nor the ‘democratic cabal’ being executed in broad daylight. If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, that is because it is.
What is QAnon?
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that claims that Trump was leading an intricate and secret plan to eliminate a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles that formed an elite in the media, government, and business, including many members of the democratic party, such as Joe Biden and Hilary Clinton. The QAnon followers believed that the inauguration ceremony would see a mass execution of democrats, led my Trump. Military tribunals and power outages were also supposed to accompany the executions.
The origins of this following can be traced back to 2017 when an anonymous user, named ‘Q’, posted several messages on the 4chan platform. The user claimed to have ‘Q clearance’, which is a security clearance that enables access to restricted data in the US. This prompted an avalanche of speculation from people seeing the messages posted by Q as pieces of valuable information offered by an insider that, put together, would reveal the disturbing truth behind the US powerful elite, called the ‘deep state’. The theories developed online attracted thousands of followers that took it upon themselves to fight against this elite, either through peaceful demonstrations or more violent approaches.
Twitter recognized the offline threat posed by a conspiracy theory that accused Democratic Party members of heinous acts and started banning QAnon accounts ever since the summer of 2020. However, QAnon followers found other alternative ways of communicating with each other and sharing their findings and theories. QAnon followers were among the people that invaded the Capitol Building, leading to the death of four people, the so-called ‘QAnon Shaman’ becoming the face of the riots that overtook Washington D.C. on the 6th of January.
Whilst the deadly outcome of the Capitol riots and Joe Biden’s peaceful inauguration have caused some to give up on the QAnon theory, others have found ways of clinging onto new avenues that could prove the conspiracy theory to be true, as has happened before. What is most disturbing about this is the level of misinformation perpetrated online and the willingness of people to believe in it. Trump’s inaction and his acceptance of a movement that supported him, whilst having such an agenda is dystopian. The former US president’s ability to remain evasive gave the QAnon movement the necessary impetus to take action on a larger scale than ever before. Trump’s departure from the White House might have dealt a blow to the whole QAnon movement, but this does not mean that the community of followers will dissolve overnight. Moreover, the ball is now rolling, with similar theories and movements developing in other countries, including the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, causing further psychological and societal damage. The question remains: what can be done for a segment of the population that refuses to believe in facts?