QAnon’s conspiracy theory followers emerge from the shadows and may head to the United States Congress

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This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent, non-profit source of news, analysis, and commentary by academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

Author: Marc-Andre Argentino, doctoral candidate Individualized program, public scholarship 2020-2021, Concordia University

Until recently, many people did not take conspiracy movements seriously, even if acts of violence were perpetrated by people on the margins. People who believe in false conspiracy theories are often seen as stupid or strange.

Below the surface, however, there are movements from these communities that have adversely affected our societies and will continue to do so. The most important of these conspiracy communities is the QAnon movement.

QAnon members are not your cartoon conspiracy theorists wearing aluminum foil hats and living in their parents’ basements. Some may soon be elected.

QAnon has an interesting place on the sidelines. Although born from the same “chan culture” as other marginal Internet conspiracy communities, QAnon is still evolving.

This October will mark three years since the QAnon movement was created after someone known as Q posted a series of conspiracy theories on the 4chan Internet forum.

ONLINE FRINGES TO MAINSTREAM POLICIES

What started as a conspiracy theory – about a deep satanic cabal of the global elites involved in pedophilia, sex trafficking and allegedly responsible for all the ills in the world – has moved from the online world to culture popular dominant.

In his book American Conspiracy Theories, political scientist Joseph Uscinski writes:

“… Conspiracy theories are basically alarm systems and coping mechanisms to help deal with threats. Consequently, they tend to resonate when groups suffer from loss, weakness or disunity. But nothing fails like success, and ascending groups trigger dynamics that test and end up reversing the advance of conspiracy theories. ”

Although academic research suggests that conspiracy theories are for the “losers,” QAnon has thrived. After all, the community that propagated QAnon’s plots was on the winning side of the 2016 US presidential election. Recent reports also suggest that the pandemic has been beneficial for QAnon, a boon for the movement in terms of new members and a increase in social media content.

INCREASE Q CONTENT ON FACEBOOK

I’ve been researching the QAnon movement since 2018. According to my latest social media analysis, QAnon has seen a 71% increase in Twitter content and a 651% increase on Facebook since March 2020.

Facebook has experienced a real QAnon boom. Currently, in my dataset, there are 179 QAnon groups with over 1.4 million members and 120 QAnon pages with a total of 911,000 pages. The most interesting element of this Facebook boom is that most of the new pages are international, providing QAnon content in many different languages.

QAnon has used its increased visibility to spread medical disinformation, raising public health concerns. They have also been the source of complaints of illegal sex trafficking, forcing some celebrities to respond to their allegations.

One of the most significant signs of QAnon’s entry into the mainstream is the growing number of QAnon supporters campaigning for the United States Congress.

MOST CANDIDATES ARE REPUBLICANS

Researcher Alex Kaplan of the American non-profit publication Media Matters has discovered that 62 QAnon believers have run for Congress primaries in 27 different states. Almost all of them presented themselves as Republicans, although a few were independent.

At least 12 of these candidates will be on the ballot in November – five in California, two in Illinois and one each in Oregon, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and Colorado, with two other candidates in the runoff races. Georgia and Texas. The results of the primaries showed that nearly 600,000 people voted for candidates who support QAnon.

Marjorie Greene is QAnon’s star candidate and is expected to win the second round for a secure Republican seat in Georgia. Trump congratulated Greene on first place in party primaries and called her a “big winner.”

INCOMBENT TO FIVE DEFEATED TERMS

On June 30, five-year-old GOP holder Scott Tipton of Colorado was upset by Lauren Boebert, who said in an interview with conservative Steel Truth that she was “very familiar” with QAnon.

“Everything I’ve heard about this movement is only motivating, encouraging and bringing people together, stronger and if it is real it can be really great for our country,” said Boebert, who is currently on the newsletter. for the November elections.

When the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asked the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to disown Boebert for his QAnon beliefs, the NRCC told The Huffington Post:

“We will come back to you when … the DCCC disavows dangerous conspiracy theorists like Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff who have made unproven claims that the President of the United States of America is in fact a secret Russian double agent under control of the Kremlin. “

Q SUPPORT CURRENT FOR THE SENATE

QAnon candidates are not limited to the House of Representatives. Oregon recently selected Jo Rae Perkins, a QAnon follower, as the GOP Senate candidate.

QAnon is no longer the simple conspiracy movement on the fringes that it was in its beginnings three years ago. It now resembles a dominant religious and political ideology. Some candidates see QAnon as an ideological platform on which they can campaign, while others see QAnon members as an electoral base from which they can win votes.

Trump has amplified tweets from supporters of the QAnon conspiracy movement at least 185 times, including more than 90 times since the start of the pandemic.

Trump associates such as his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, campaign manager Brad Pascale, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Donald Trump Jr. have also amplified the content of QAnon. Most recently, Eric Trump promoted QAnon on Instagram by hooking up to the controversial president’s rally in Tulsa, Okla.

Conspiracy writer and researcher Travis View notes: “QAnon conspiracy theories are promoted to the highest level of power, while not so long ago conspiracy theories were the hobby of the helpless .

If QAnon believers go to the halls of Congress, those who were once considered helpless will have achieved real power. As journalists and researchers educate candidates about QAnon, American voters will have to determine whether they are ready to hand over responsibility for their democratic institutions to QAnon adherents.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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