A Comprehensive Guide to QAnon, the Final Boss of Conspiracy Theories

George Soros, the Illuminati, and Snow White are all controlling the world according to a 4channer who has spawned a legion of supersleuths. Roseanne Barr’s recent career-ending tweetstorm didn’t just lead to her eponymous sitcom being cancelled, it demonstrated what the ugliest side of the right-wing internet looks like. As the New York Times reported at the time, Barr’s tweets weren’t just racist, they occasionally delved into into the widening black hole of insane conspiracy theories known as QAnon. Who or what is QAnon? Just asking that question sucks you into a world that’s like Pizzagate on bath salts, a galaxy-brained, 4chan-bred conspiracy theory that has apparently convinced an alarming number of adults that all kinds of preposterous things are true.
The whole mess started on October 28, when an anonymous user going by the handle “Q” started a thread on 4chan’s /pol board titled “The Calm Before the Storm.” In a series of posts, Q claimed to be a high-level government employee with Department of Energy Q clearance and access to Top Secret–level information about Donald Trump, the Democrats, and the hidden big-picture machinations of the US government. Wielding the plausible-enough-sounding details and sprawling shadow government plot of a lesser Dan Brown novel, Q began slowly painting a picture of a reality far different from the one we live in. The resulting QAnon conspiracy theory states that Trump is not under investigation by Robert Mueller. Instead, Trump is merely playing the part of hapless conspiratorial criminal while covertly helping the special counsel pursue their true quarry: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and all the other liberal boogeymen. (It gets a LOT crazier than that, but that’s the core plot.) All of this was spelled out through cryptic hints, which seems to be half the fun for people who get into it. Before long, there were countless YouTube channels, subreddits, and message boards dedicated to collectively piecing his hints together with digital red string. One QAnon-based subreddit has more than 31,000 subscribers. On YouTube, QAnon-themed videos can have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of views. It’s even bled out into the real world, with conspiracy theorists claiming they had found pedophile camps in the Arizona desert. So this nonsense isn’t likely to go away any time soon. To sort out what this web of spurious claims consists of—and to help you identify when someone is dipping their toes into it—here’s a guide to the conspiracy.

via vice: A Comprehensive Guide to QAnon, the Final Boss of Conspiracy Theories

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