But some followers are still trusting “the plan” and pushing new conspiracy theories

QAnon Decoded is a series that monitors how followers of the QAnon movement are filtering major election events through their conspiratorial version of reality. Not sure what QAnon is? Start here.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem via CreativeCommons | President Joe Biden in 2016.

QAnon followers were forced to reckon with reality as they witnessed Joe Biden become the nation’s 46th president on Wednesday after months of engaging with baseless conspiracy theories aimed at delegitimizing the newly elected president’s claim to the office.

For many QAnon followers, inauguration day was put up or shut up day for the movement. In the hours leading up to the inauguration, most QAnon communities remained optimistic that some grand event would occur ahead of Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, somehow resulting in a second presidential term for Trump. The dominant theory was that Trump would initiate “The Storm” and that Biden and other “deep state” politicians would be publicly arrested only minutes before Biden was set to be sworn in. But like most QAnon predictions, Biden’s inauguration came and went uneventfully. The end result is a QAnon more divided than ever. …


Voter fraud conspiracy theories and false hope that Trump could overturn the election inspired supporters to try the unthinkable

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Harrison Keely via FreeImages | Supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Months of right-wing disinformation came to a predictable end on January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters — incited by the president and his lackeys — stormed the United States Capitol in an apparent attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The thwarted insurrection came after months of baseless right-wing voter fraud allegations aimed at sowing doubt in the validity of the election results and undermining the basic structures of American democracy.

Allegations of voter fraud were raised by the president and his allies even before the election took place, but accelerated after his November loss to President-elect Joe Biden. The president’s team has yet to present any evidence of voter fraud that stands up in a court of law. His campaign has filed 62 legal challenges challenging the election, and 61 of them have failed. Nonetheless, the president, right-wing media and several Republican lawmakers have continued to entertain outlandish conspiracy theories with no basis in reality, often dog-whistling to their most extreme supporters. …


Followers reacted to election results with delusional optimism, voter fraud conspiracy theories and civil war rhetoric

QAnon Decoded is a series that monitors how followers of the QAnon movement are filtering major election events through their conspiratorial version of reality. Not sure what QAnon is? Start here.

Image for post
Image for post
Author Photo | On November 8 in Atlanta, GA, Trump supporters protested supposed voter fraud during the 2020 election, a baseless allegation echoed in QAnon circles.

The four-day limbo following Election Day was a stressful and uncertain period for all Americans, but QAnon followers may have had it worse than any of us.


A clear and convincing Trump loss will result in at least some QAnon defectors and could minimize far-right violence

QAnon Decoded is a series that monitors how followers of the QAnon movement are filtering major election events through their conspiratorial version of reality. Not sure what QAnon is? Start here.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Element5 Digital via Unsplash

If you ask QAnon supporters, Joe Biden’s campaign is on the brink of collapse. In the final days ahead of the November 3 election, devotees have speculated that Biden will drop out or undergo crushing defeat, hinging their beliefs on a series of misleading conspiracy theories surrounding the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden.

The impetus for these conspiracies is a flimsy New York Post article published earlier this month that alleged, but could not prove, that the former vice president aided his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. Although mainstream sources have largely ignored the Post story due to sourcing and credibility issues, the unsubstantiated claims have consumed right-wing media. In fringe circles, the resulting echo chamber has produced several baseless theories that Biden won’t even make it to election day. …


Hunter Biden conspiracy blurs line between GOP and the far-right

QAnon Decoded is a series that monitors how followers of the QAnon movement are filtering major election events through their conspiratorial version of reality. Not sure what QAnon is? Start here.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash | QAnon followers at a rally in London.

Right-wing pundits and politicians have echoed QAnon this week, with many spreading an unfounded conspiracy theory that a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden contains child pornography and evidence of illicit contact with minors. Popular figures on the right including Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, Lou Dobbs, Dinesh D’Souza and Dan Bongino have shared the theory with millions.

The allegation parallels the common QAnon refrain that Democrats and elites are engaged in an elaborate child sex-trafficking scheme. Those within the QAnon community have latched onto the narrative as confirmation that “the storm” is imminent. The unfounded allegation is only one in a series of misleading and false claims levied at Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden and his son in recent days. …


The future of the deranged conspiracy theory doesn’t have to make sense

QAnon Decoded is a series that monitors how followers of the QAnon movement are filtering major election events through their conspiratorial version of reality. Not sure what QAnon is? Start here.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

If the election were held tomorrow, Donald Trump would lose. It’s more of a mathematical certainty than a controversial statement at this point. As of publication, the RealClearPolitics average has Democratic Nominee Joe Biden 10 points ahead, a major gap for Trump to bridge with only three weeks to go. …


Baseless conspiracy received engagement from hundreds of thousands on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tik Tok

This is the first article in a series that will monitor how followers of the QAnon movement are filtering major election events through their conspiratorial version of reality.

Image for post
Image for post
Author Screenshot | An image shared by a QAnon follower on Facebook depicting the supposed aftermath of “The Storm.”

For any normal presidential candidate, a life-threatening diagnosis, a widely-panned debate performance and dismal poll numbers in key states would be cause for concern in the weeks leading up to election day. But for followers of the the far right QAnon conspiracy theory, President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis instead marks the beginning of the political “storm” that will implicate his “deep state” enemies.

When Trump announced in a tweet Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, social media was indundated with conspiracy theories. Some users suggested the president was faking his diagnosis to earn sympathy from voters only a month before the election. Others shared a debunked claim that Trump was concealing a secret oxygen tank when he left the White House for Walter Reed hospital on Friday. VineSight, a tech company that tracks online misinformation, found that nearly 30,000 Twitter accounts retweeted conspiracy theories following Trump’s announcement. …

About

Jared Casto

Law student, writer and photographer. Follow me on Twitter @jaredcasto

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store