On the surface, the QAnon conspiracy seems to have basically disappeared from large social media sites. but it is not the truth.
Nowadays, popular QAnon slogans such as “Great Awakening”, “Storm” or “Believe in the Plan” are not so popular on Facebook. Facebook and Twitter have deleted tens of thousands of accounts dedicated to unfounded conspiracy theories, which described former President Donald Trump as a hero, with the devil-worshiping pedophile who dominates Hollywood, big companies, the media, and the government The sects fought secretly.
Gone are the huge “stop theft” groups that spread lies about the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Trump also left, permanently banning the use of Twitter and being suspended from posting on Facebook until 2023.
But QAnon is far from over. Federal intelligence officials recently warned that its followers may commit more violent acts, such as the fatal congressional riot on January 6. At least one public supporter of QAnon was elected as a member of Congress, Marjorie Taylor GreenQAnon has grown in the four years since someone claimed to be “Q” and started posting mysterious news on fringe Internet discussion boards.
QAnon now contains a variety of conspiracy theories, from evangelical or religious perspectives to Hollywood suspected pedophilia and Jeffrey Epstein scandal, Jared Holt, a resident researcher at the Atlantic Council DFRLab, said he focuses on domestic extremism. “Q-specific things are decreasing,” he said. But the worldview and conspiracy theories absorbed by QAnon still exist.
Loosely linking these movements together is a general distrust of the powerful, usually left-wing elites.These include the spreader of the anti-vaccine lie, the supporter of Trump’s “big lie,” the 2020 president Election stolen Almost all believers in other worldviews believe that a dark cabal secretly controls things.
For social platforms, dealing with this faceless, constantly changing and increasingly popular way of thinking is a more complex challenge than in the past.
According to Max Rizzuto, another researcher at DFRLab, these ideologies “have consolidated their position and are now part of American folklore.” “I think we will never see it disappear.”
Online, such groups are now integrated into the background. The Facebook group once publicly quoted QAnon, and now the group title is “Because you missed this in the so-called MSM”, a page that quotes “mainstream media” and has more than 4,000 fans. It contains links to articles from Fox News’s Edit by Tucker Carlson and right-wing publications such as Newsmax and Daily Wire.
Topics range from suspected rampant crime to widespread election fraud and baseless claims of “a total war against conservatives.” The goal of these groups is to attract them more deeply by guiding them to more information on less-regulated websites such as Gab or Gab. speak.
Earlier this year, DFRLab analyzed the presence of QAnon slogans and related terms on social media more than 40 million times, and found that their presence on mainstream platforms has declined significantly in recent months. DFRLab found that QAnon buzzwords have largely disappeared from mainstream websites after the short-term peak in mid-to-late 2020 and January 6.
Therefore, while users may not post about Hillary Clinton’s crazy conspiracy to drink children’s blood, they may repeat the claim that vaccines can change your DNA.
There are several reasons for the decline in Q’s conversations-for example, Trump’s loss of the presidential election and the lack of new information from “Q”. But the biggest factor seems to be QAnon’s crackdown on Facebook and Twitter. Although well-documented errors indicate weak law enforcement, the exile seems to have largely worked. Nowadays, it has become more difficult to find open QAnon accounts on mainstream social media sites, at least from the perspective of excluding public data such as hidden Facebook groups and private messages.
Although the QAnon group, page, and core account may disappear, many of their supporters remain on the big platform-but now they are disguising their language and downplaying QAnon’s most extreme tenets to make them more acceptable.
“There is a very, very clear effort within the QAnon community to disguise their language,” said Angelo Carusson, President and CEO of Media Affairs, a free research organization following the rise of QAnon. “As a result, they stopped using many codes, triggers and keywords, which triggered various enforcement actions against them.”
Other dodges may also help. For example, there was a period earlier this year when supporters would not repeat the Q slogan, but instead type three asterisks next to their name to show that they adhered to the conspiracy theory. This is a tribute to the three-star general and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Facebook stated that it has deleted approximately 3,300 pages, 10,500 groups, 510 events, 18,300 Facebook profiles, and 27,300 Instagram accounts because they violated QAnon policies. The company said in a statement: “We will continue to consult with experts and improve our law enforcement in response to how injuries evolve, including recidivist groups.”
But the social giant will still reduce the release of personal information about QAnon, citing experts to warn that banning individual Q followers “may lead to further social isolation and danger,” the company said. Facebook’s policies and response to QAnon continue to evolve. Since August last year, the company stated that as the movement and its language evolved, it added dozens of new terms.
At the same time, Twitter stated that it has been taking action on activities that may cause offline harm. After the January 6th uprising, the company began to permanently suspend thousands of accounts, saying that these accounts were “mainly used” for sharing dangerous QAnon materials. Twitter said that to date, it has suspended 150,000 such accounts. Like Facebook, the company said its response is evolving.
But the crackdown may come too late. For example, Carusone pointed out that Facebook banned violence-related QAnon groups six weeks before banning QAnon more broadly. This effectively makes followers notice the reorganization, disguise and transfer to different platforms.
Rizzuto of DFRLabs said: “If social media companies have time to take a stand on QAnon content, it’s like a few months or a few years ago.”