It’s very difficult to believe that the Q-Anon conspiracy theory is still a thing. With so much constant bad news surrounding President Trump and the Mueller investigation, a reasonable person would imagine that a conspiracy theory centered on the notion that Trump and Mueller–and, it was long thought, Jeff Sessions–are working together to take down a shadowy cabal of liberal pedophiles and satanists would have long since blown apart.
But the followers of “Q”, an enigmatic and anonymous person or set of persons posting cryptic messages purported to be a White insider on the troll message boards of 8chan, are still out there and still believe. The posts coming from “Q” have long since been proven to be riddled with photoshops, false predictions and forged “codes” that turn out to be product serial numbers, but that hasn’t shaken the faith of the true believers. Like so many prophetic cults, every failed prediction is dismissed and waived away, while the vaguest and most tenuous connections are held up as “proofs.” The latest such prediction was that a wave of arrests would take place on December 5th (“D5” in Q-world). When it didn’t materialize, followers of “Q” blamed the George H.W. Bush funeral for delaying the “storm” and blithely moved on.
When Reddit banned the subreddits dedicated to the conspiracy theory, much of the online activity shifted to other forums such as Voat, a website that imitates Reddit’s structure and has become a festering hotbed of racism, anti-semitism, and sexism after earning a reputation as a refuge for all those with far-right views too repellent even for Reddit.
Even a quick look at the Q-Anon community on Voat is enough to paint a portrait of families torn apart, relationships destroyed and people spiraling into mental illness. Here are a few examples from just one thread in which various conspiracy acolytes have convinced themselves that everyone else in their lives is brainwashed and crazy:
QAnon[a] (/kjuːəˈnɒn/) is a far-right conspiracy theory detailing a supposed secret conspiracy by an alleged “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters. The theory began with an October 2017 post on the anonymous imageboard 4chan by someone using the tripcode Q, a presumably Americanindividual that may have later grown to include multiple individuals, claiming to have access to classified information involving the Trump administration and its opponents in the United States. The account has falsely accused numerous liberal Hollywood actors, politicians, and high-ranking officials of engaging in an international child sex trafficking ring, and that Trump feigned collusion with Russians to enlist Robert Mueller to join him in exposing the ring and preventing a coup d’état by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros. “Q” is a reference to the top-secret Q clearance.