Conspiracy Theory Trends: QAnon

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue has released Genesis of a Conspiracy Theory: Key Trends in QAnon Activity Since 2017, a report analyzing the QAnon conspiracy, including a rise in activity amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the report, this conspiracy theory “claims that an elite group of child-trafficking paedophiles have been ruling the world for a number of decades and that President Trump has a secret plan in place to bring this group to justice.” As believers in this conspiracy have grown, so has the breadth of its content. Currently, the QAnon conspiracy is being tethered to other ideologies such as “anti-vaccine, anti-5G […], antisemitic and anti-migrant tropes” conspiracies.

Spy with magnifying glassAs of 2019, the FBI has designated QAnon as a “domestic terror threat” because of its potential to incite extremist violence. In spite of this, several U.S. congressional candidates for the 2020 November election proclaim support for the QAnon conspiracy. Several key events from 2017 to 2020 have contributed to its spread, including Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest and death, and the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. What started out as a primarily U.S. based conspiracy theory, has expanded to gain international recognition. Currently, QAnon followers seem to be propagating misinformation pertaining to both COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and the George Floyd protests, all while membership across various digital platforms, such as Facebook, seem to be on the rise.


For more information, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Domestic (U.S.) Terrorism and Social Media Use in Emergencies, or view other resources related to Conspiracy Theories and Disinformation and Propaganda. Coronavirus related resources may also be found in the COVID-19 Special Collection. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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