#WTF: The Downfall of QAnon


Photograph courtesy of https://www.adl.org/

Following the first announcement of the presidential election results, the Internet exploded exactly as one would expect. Posters across the net cheered, despaired, urged peace, spread false claims and more. None of these activities are out of the ordinary during election season. We are not dealing with an ordinary Internet, though. Mixed in with all the usual election night posts were the varied reactions of QAnon supporters. Seemingly overnight, the massive conspiracy theory that has girded every social media site has started to evaporate. How did it get to this point? It is a long story.

QAnon as it is known first started appearing online in 2017. Out of nowhere, an anonymous user on the 4Chan message board /pol/ posted a thread titled “the calm before the storm.” This massive thread weaved a complex tale. The poster, who claimed to be a government employee with high level government access, purported that President Donald Trump was planning a coup that would lead to the exposure, arrest and execution of a secret cabal of satanic child-eating pedophiles. This event, referred to as “The Storm,” was supposed to occur as soon as Trump won the 2020 presidential election. As the countdown towards the election drew closer, Q urged their followers to “trust in the plan” but now many followers are wondering if there was ever a plan at all. With Biden’s victory in the 2020 election secure, QAnon as a whole is melting down. After years of cryptic posting, Q has finally gone completely silent. There are still plenty of posts all claiming to be from Q, but the verified account that belongs to the poster has not made a single post in recent weeks.

Stretches of silence from the linked Q account have never been uncommon occurrences. Posts from the verified Q account stopped for months in 2019 after the poster’s site of choice, 8Chan, was shut down due to its role in spreading hate speech. The site, which is run by businessman Jim Watkins and his son Ron Watkins, has served as the epicenter of the majority of Q’s posts. QAnon theorists have long since suspected that the two men either know who Q is or have been posting as Q the whole time. That theory has picked up more credibility in recent months. As the QAnon lore has disintegrated around them, both men have sought to distance themselves from the 8Chan website.  The two have cited censorship and ongoing legal battles as the reason for their departure from the site. With 8Chan’s future uncertain and most major social media platforms banning Q-related content, it appears as if the movement is finally drying up. Whether or not QAnon will regain its cultural foothold remains to be seen.