Dominion of QAnon’s electoral fraud conspiracy theory reaches President

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For days after the election, supporters of the conspiratorial QAnon movement had tried to get President Donald Trump’s attention with constant false allegations of voter fraud linked to a company that makes voting machines.

Thursday they celebrated. Trump tweeted in all capitals about a conspiracy theory that alleges baselessly that Dominion Voting Systems, a company that makes voting machines, ‘suppressed’ millions of Trump votes, citing a report on the extreme media right One America News Network.

While the theory has already been debunked – including by Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is responsible for national security related to the Internet and technology – Trump’s tweet gave some energy to a time when the QAnon movement had stalled, waiting for its leader, “Q” to return with the advice of a hiatus that began on Election Day morning and lasted for over a week.

But QAnon is far from over. The recent development and activity of the Dominion Conspiracy Theory movement shows how even Joe Biden’s election victory and the disintegration of the larger QAnon narrative does not mean the end of the larger conspiracy ecosystem that ‘he built.

Advance Democracy, a non-partisan nonprofit that tracks disinformation, found that 1 in 7 tweets about “#Dominion” since November 5 came from accounts self-identified as QAnon accounts. Tweets containing the #Dominion hashtag have grown from around 75 tweets per day to over 35,700 each day last week.

The adherents of QAnon had shaken themselves last week, as the plot prophecy had apparently failed. The conspiracy theory postulated that Trump was secretly working to save the world from a cabal of top Democrats who murder children to appease Satan, and that an anonymous user named “Q” on the extremist site 8kun described his secret plan to round up and execute them.

But “Q” did not post for seven days after the polls closed, and 8kun administrator Ron Watkins resigned on election day.

QAnon followers, however, quickly got past the failed prophecy and started following QAnon influencers on Twitter, including Watkins, for advice and talking points, which led Q believers to push the issue. Dominion conspiracy theory.

The ability of QAnon accounts to transform into ambassadors for brand new political conspiracy theories shows how the conspiracy movement has built a durable and unwavering digital army that will work to absolve Trump from any negative outcome, despite the collapse of the conspiracy foundations. .

“The ability of the QAnon community to participatively generate false but eye-catching narratives that propagate through the far-right media ecosystem and beyond is an important clue to the longevity of the movement,” said Travis View, co – host of the QAnon Anonymous podcast. if 8kun went offline tomorrow and Q stopped posting, the community of true believers would remain. And so would their inclination to build and promote conspiratorial fantasies. ”

“It’s a stand-alone disinformation factory,” View said.

False conspiracy theories about Dominion voting systems were circulating on the fringes of the Internet, particularly the 4chan message board and QAnon-linked Twitter accounts, in the days following Biden’s announcement as the projected winner of the election of 2020.

With the official Q account silent, subscribers took to high-profile QAnon influencers on YouTube and Twitter, and even reached out to new government insiders. On 4chan and Twitter, QAnon followers began to idolize – and even pretend to be – Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Trump loyalist who was promoted to Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security. after a series of layoffs and resignations at the Defense Department this week. Similar to “Q”, they claimed that “ECW” had almost mythical powers to help the president fight a non-existent cabal and help Trump stay in power.

Some people who are central figures in the world of QAnon have helped push the Dominion conspiracy theory into the conservative media favored by Trump. The theory reached critical mass when Watkins tweeted that he knew about technical details of how the votes could be reversed and offered to help Trump link Rudy Giuliani to the discovery of voter fraud.

Watkins tweeted on Thursday morning shortly after midnight that Chanel Rion, White House correspondent for One America News Network, had contacted him regarding the allegations. About 10 hours later, Rion released a report on the network that summarized Internet conspiracy theories on Dominion. The president tweeted a quote from the segment shortly after.

When asked by NBC News if Watkins’ ideas informed Rion’s report, Watkins replied, “Looks like you should be asking Chanel that, not me.” When asked to what extent Watkins’ ideas influenced his report tweeted by the President, Rion replied “None” in an email.

Dominion Voting Systems has strongly denied the possibility that its software could be used to “trade” votes.

“Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies any claims regarding any voting changes or any suspected software issues with our voting systems. National systems continue to reliably and accurately count ballots, and national and local election authorities have publicly confirmed the integrity of the process, ”the company said in a statement. “The claims about Dominion changing or removing votes are 100% false. “

The future of QAnon is still uncertain. Fredrick Brennan, who created the 8chan website which was later renamed 8kun, said Ron and his father, Jim Watkins, could post under the QAnon account at any time. Ron Watkins’ resignation on Election Day has further fueled speculation that he could be part of a team making messages like “Q.” Watkins has repeatedly denied having anything to do with “Q.”

Brennan has publicly distanced himself from 8chan and 8kun and has made several attempts to take the site down from hosting providers due to its links to mass white supremacist shootings.

“The Q people are in a very vulnerable place now, as they are looking for a new narrative,” Brennan said. “They’re trying to figure out how they can continue to grow and continue to control this digital army without necessarily believing that there is a commander in the White House.”

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