Joe Biden in the White House: Crisis of Faith in the QAnon Movement

For years, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory waited for the day when Donald Trump would make mass arrests, military tribunals and executions of his Satan-worshiping enemies who sacrificed children.

Keeping the faith is not proving easy now that Joe Biden assumed the presidency and the apocalyptic reckoning with prominent Democrats and Trump’s long-awaited enemies of the deep state, the state within the state, has not occurred.

Some QAnon supporters were convinced that Biden’s victory was wishful thinking and that Trump would continue in the presidency for a second term.

Others take comfort in thinking that Trump will be the one pulling the strings during Biden’s tenure.

There are also those who believe that Biden’s inauguration was a computer-generated spectacle or that Biden himself is the mysterious “Q”, supposedly someone from the government who throws enigmatic clues about the conspiracy.

In many, Trump’s departure sowed all kinds of doubts, confusion, disenchantment and discomfort.

“I am very scared now. I feel like nothing is going to happen, ”someone wrote on the Telegram service popular with QAnon adherents. “I am broken”.

Mike Rothschild, author of an upcoming book on QAnon called “The Storm is Upon Us,” said it is unclear whether this malaise is a tipping point or a temporary setback for the movement. .

“I think these people sacrificed a lot, with their family and their personal lives,” he said. “They strongly believed in this, and most of these people don’t get the idea of ​​giving it all up.”

As it became clear that the inauguration would go smoothly, many forums used by QAnon were bombarded with posts from people making fun of the conspiracy.

“Trump said ‘THE BEST IS TO COME.’ I don’t give up, ”said a Qtah user when announcing to his 30,000 subscribers that his portal would stop working for a while.

Some white supremacist or far-right groups took the opportunity to try to recruit disenchanted QAnon supporters for groups like the Proud Boys.

An anonymous post on 4chan, for example, said that “this is the perfect time to start spreading Nat Soc propaganda among the QAnon groups. Clearly this is a very bad moment for the believers in Q and when they are broken, they will look for spaces that renew their hope ”. Nat Soc alludes to national socialism, Nazi ideology.

QAnon emerged in 2017 among anonymous digital forums and then migrated to Twitter, Facebook and other massive platforms, which were slow to respond to its conspiracy theories.

While Facebook and Twitter said last year that they would veto QAnon, the accounts of thousands of its adherents remained open until last month, when the companies finally banned thousands of users who used violent rhetoric to try to prevent confirmation of the results of the elections in Congress on January 6.

Twitter said it had suspended more than 70,000 QAnon accounts after the takeover of Congress. Facebook, for its part, disabled more than 57,000 Instagram pages, groups, profiles and accounts. Trump was also vetoed by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Some of the QAnon believers migrated to smaller platforms like MeWe and Telegram, where they quickly recruited thousands of followers.

But the measures taken by the big companies almost silenced QAnon. Mentioning of QAnon’s most popular hashtags, such as #FightforTrump and #HoldTheLine, dropped by about 90%, according to social media analytics firm Zignal Labs.

Some supporters of QAnon found a way to publicize their messages on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging their followers not to lose hope that Trump would find a way to remain in the presidency or to denounce the network of the “deep state” in the government, which according to them operates a gang of traffickers who sexually abuse children.

Videos and posts on Facebook, Telegram and YouTube predicted that Trump would declare martial law and arrest prominent Democrats.

“The upcoming presidential inauguration … believe me, it’s going to be the biggest ever seen in the history of the United States,” said a pro-Trump singer who promotes QAnon’s conspiracy theories, in a video that was seen more than 350,000 times after diffusion.

However, Biden took over without incident.

One of the most prominent disenchants is Ron Watkins, who spread conspiracy theories on social media.

“We did what we could,” Watkins wrote on Telegram minutes after Biden took office. “Now we have to keep our heads high and get on with our lives however we can.”