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Oct 15 · Last update 9 mo. ago.

What impact will QAnon have on the 2020 presidential election?

QAnon is a conspiracy theory that has become popular amongst Trump supporters and the far-right, claiming a shadow civil war is occurring between US intelligence agencies. Q is believed to be a group of high standing figures in US intelligence services that carries out an "intelligence dissemination program" by leaking cryptic messages, or “clues”, online. These posts, or Q drops, have coalesced into a big web of conspiracy theories that revolve around Donald Trump dismantling human trafficking rings and carrying out a purge of the US government and intelligence services, in order to remove an elite satanic cannibal/pedophile ring. QAnon is a network of conspiracy theorists or “researchers” that anonymously post supporting information, building a massive web of theories linking popular conspiracy theories in the age to Donald Trump. QAnon followers are becoming an increasing presence in Trump rallies, far-right protests and to some extent international anti-lockdown protests, with thousands of social media accounts linked to this conspiracy network. Could QAnon impact the 2020 US presidential election? Could this level of misinformation sway the vote? Does the QAnon conspiracy theory represent a threat to honest political debate?
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Big impact
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Little actual impact
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Misinformation is already having a dangerous impact
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Nothing new and the History of Q
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Big impact

QAnon is likely to have a large impact on the 2020 election, just as misinformation defined Trump's 2016 campaign. Huge disinformation campaigns like this do threaten honest political debate in the United States and elsewhere. This conspiracy network is such a threat as it is so popular, a QAnon app called "QDrops" was one of the most popular paid apps in 2018, before being pulled from the AppStore, while both Facebook and Twitter have closed thousands of accounts linked to QAnon to fight misinformation on the platforms. Facebook have removed hundreds of QAnon groups, pages, hashtags, and ads on their platform and over 10,000 accounts on their sister platform Instagram. While twitter has banned over 7,000 accounts in connection with the QAnon, and stated further action could be taken on up to 150,000 accounts.

Meanwhile the FBI have even identified QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy extremists as groups that could possibly carry out violent acts and pose a risk as a domestic terror threat. When considering the massive following QAnon has this is a truly dismal picture. The impact of QAnon on politics is also clear when you look at the growing number of Republican party candidates openly expressing interest in the conspiracy theory. Republican nominees Matthew Lusk, Danielle Stella, Jo Rae Perkins, Lauren Boebert, Lauren Witzke, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, have all signalled interest or support for the QAnon movement.

thehill.com/policy/national-security/fbi/455770-fbi-memo-warns-qanon-poses-a-potential-terror-threat-report nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/exclusive-apple-google-cashed-pizzagate-offshoot-conspiracy-app-n891726 investmentwatchblog.com/did-you-know-that-80-of-internet-news-consumed-by-people-is-referred-by-google-and-facebook-two-companies-have-complete-control-over-how-the-western-world-perceives-reality thedailybeast.com/rep-ilhan-omars-republican-challenger-appears-to-be-a-qanon-conspiracy-theorist theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/25/danielle-stella-republican-ilhan-omar-charged-felony-qanon-trump thedailybeast.com/matthew-lusk-meet-the-first-qanon-believer-running-for-congress businessinsider.com/trump-campaign-sources-propaganda-from-qanon-network-2020-6

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DH edited this paragraph
QAnon is likely to have a large impact on the 2020 election, just as misinformation defined Trump's 2016 campaign. Huge disinformation campaigns like this do threaten honest political debate in the United States and elsewhere. This conspiracy network is such a threat as it is so popular, a QAnon app called "QDrops" was one of the most popular paid apps in 2018, before being pulled from the AppStore, while both Facebook and Twitter have closed thousands of accounts linked to QAnon to fight misinformation on the platforms. Facebook have removed hundreds of QAnon groups, pages, hashtags, and ads on their platform and over 10,000 accounts on their sister platform Instagram. While twitter has banned over 7,000 accounts in connection with the QAnon, and stated further action could be taken on up to 150,000 accounts.

Little actual impact

The amplification of the Qanon conspiracy theory is just an excuse for the corporate media not to look at the subject of policy in the run up to a horrible US election where both candidates are extremely similar. Both Biden and Trump are two corporatist candidates that represent little in the way of hope, change, or positive policies for the US population moving forward. QAnon is just the next scapegoat in the same way Russia was the excuse for the Democratic Party not to look at why they failed in 2016, a way to distract and misinform party supporters and the electorate so they are too busy concentrating on fairytales than to demand actual political reform. In this way Qanon will have just as much impact on the 2020 election as the "buff Bernie" memes had in 2016.

People are suffering from Apophenia, the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things, and the Internet has helped to connect groups of such people on a scale that has never happened before. QAnon followers are aware that they live under a corrupt (oligarchy) but so uninformed that they are more willing to blindly follow this misinformation than to depress themselves by researching and engaging in the countries corruptive political process. To claim that such unhinged theories pose a serious threat to honest political debate is just pathetic, but it is believable considering how misinformed the electorate of the United States usually is.

qanondebunked.com dailydot.com/debug/qanon-failed-predictions venturebeat.com/2020/10/09/how-social-media-and-gamification-fueled-qanons-crowdsourced-cult consortiumnews.com/2019/07/29/russiagate-as-organized-distraction

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https://www.qanondebunked.com/ https://www.dailydot.com/debug/qanon-failed-predictions/ https://venturebeat.com/2020/10/09/how-social-media-and-gamification-fueled-qanons-crowdsourced-cult/ https://consortiumnews.com/2019/07/29/russiagate-as-organized-distraction/

Misinformation is already having a dangerous impact

Misinformation is already having a dangerous impact in the US, but the political willingness to use this misinformation is reinforcing the narratives of conspiracy theories such as Qanon, and this is most damaging and actually threatens the safety of US citizens. Both Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have amplified QAnon stories of planes and buses full of "Antifa" activists being flown into towns to stir up violence, for Trump this adds to a continuing pattern of dangerous flirting with conspiracy theories and misinformation. Similarly during the Western US wildfires of 2020 false rumours of "Antifa" activists were setting fires and preparing to loot properties that were being evacuated were rife on the Internet, complicating the response to the fires and potentially causing harm and hysteria. Such posts were amplified directly in a "Qdrop" (QAnon post), and fed into widespread outrage.

This does not represent a threat to honest political debate so much as it resents a real world danger of mass hysteria. The US is witnessing increasingly divided times with a resurgence of both a civil rights movement in Black Lives Matter, and a growing number of far-right militias such as the Proud Boys and the The Boogaloo Bois who advocate for civil war, a race war and the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. QAnon is at once feeding misinformation to delegitimise social justice movements and stoke violent reactions from an increasingly dangerous group of militias. However with QAnon there is the added danger to real child trafficking operations, obscuring the very real threat of child trafficking while encouraging dangerous behaviour that may complicate real sting operations.

forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/08/12/top-trump-campaign-staffer-slams-gop-congressman-for-calling-qanon-a-fabrication news.yahoo.com/trumps-encouragement-qanon-dangerous-makes-171001469.html nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-qanon-child-sex-trafficking-20201028-eclhifensfdqlnduqodoehexji-story.html ccn.com/people-behind-qanon-have-been-revealed

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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/08/12/top-trump-campaign-staffer-slams-gop-congressman-for-calling-qanon-a-fabrication/ https://news.yahoo.com/trumps-encouragement-qanon-dangerous-makes-171001469.html https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-qanon-child-sex-trafficking-20201028-eclhifensfdqlnduqodoehexji-story.html https://www.ccn.com/people-behind-qanon-have-been-revealed/

Nothing new and the History of Q

Q is thought to have stemmed from Alternate Reality Games (ARG) and internet hoaxes. ARGs are interactive online networking games and marketing gimmicks that rely on multiplatform narratives, where players are left to work together to amass clues and solve puzzles to immerse them in a fantasy “world” of the film or video game they were created to promote. Online ARGs began with the infamous Ong’s Hat in the 90s but quickly developed into an elaborate marketing tool a decade later, with Spielberg’s A.I., the Blair Witch Project, the videogame Halo2, and even Audi releasing famous examples of ARGs to create hype around their products release. Famous Internet hoaxes such as “John Titor”, whose anonymous posts claimed he was a time traveller sent back in time while making predictions of future events that failed to materialise, are likewise thought to have been a precursor to Q.

When compared to its precursors the QAnon movement is nothing new, it's just the latest in a history of internet hoaxes that has managed to hook a massive amount of moral-panicophiles into a conspiratorial ARG, one that they do not even realise they are playing. In this way it is just the latest sad development that demonstrates the unhealthy disconnect that a sizeable minority have from a political landscape that is so toxic they would rather languish in delusion than enter into serious political research, thought or debate. This does not represent a threat to honest political debate, it is just online silliness that has happened again and again and will continue, as will horoscopes and “end-times prophecy” cults and extremist religions sects, which stem from a similar distaste for reality.

mssv.net/2020/08/02/what-args-can-teach-us-about-qanon theunexpectedcosmology.com/the-beast-cometh genocidewatch.com/single-post/2020/09/09/QAnon-is-a-Nazi-Cult-Rebranded medium.com/curiouserinstitute/a-game-designers-analysis-of-qanon-580972548be5

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DH edited this paragraph
https://mssv.net/2020/08/02/what-args-can-teach-us-about-qanon/ https://theunexpectedcosmology.com/the-beast-cometh/ https://www.genocidewatch.com/single-post/2020/09/09/QAnon-is-a-Nazi-Cult-Rebranded https://medium.com/curiouserinstitute/a-game-designers-analysis-of-qanon-580972548be5
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