How the QAnon internet hoax sowed lies, spread chaos and conspiracy theories, and profited off its surprisingly large following.
A little less than a year after the first QAnon post, which has since led hundreds of thousands of news junkies down a conspiracy rabbit hole, news correspondent Jack Posobiec from One America News Network spoke with one of the co-originators of the “Q” persona who runs a group of individuals posing as a high-level government intelligence officer. On an anonymous “free speech” platform called 8Chan, they leave thousands of riddles, “clues,” odd questions, and cryptic lines as bread crumbs for their followers to help them in their search for truth.
Many major media outlets have overviewed the nest of conspiracy theories nurtured within Q followers. While many have speculated about who is behind Q and how it came to exist, thanks to Posobiec’s extensive research and the confession of a co-creator who goes by the pseudonym “Microchip,” we now know, with a high degree of certainty, the real origin story of QAnon.
Although the OANN report was published in early September, it’s hard to take down Q enthusiasts. On the internet, lies don’t die, but continue on in half-life until, like ancient cockroaches, they silently crawl off into the far dark corners of the web. QAnon, while fully discredited for numerous failed predictions and false information in its posts alone, is a full-blown enigmatic cult.
Was QAnon A Mistake?
Like many cults, QAnon encourages its most dedicated followers to give money to the further the “great awakening” (of which Q is supposedly a leader). There is ample evidence outside of Posobiec’s report that the individuals currently running Q are financially motivated and have been for some time.
Several threads of evidence, including Microchip’s confession and Discord logs of his conversation with a co-conspirator, reveal how what was originally intended as a harmless troll to “get people thinking” quickly spun into a mythical persona whose cryptic words developed into a full-fledged conspiratorial worldview for a growing audience, now eager for more riddles (and ripe for financial exploitation).
Where there is an audience for conspiracy theories, there’s money to be made. As one Q-skeptic, a YouTuber who goes by the name Unirock, recounted, he was once invited to a Discord server with some of the core “bakers,” or leading Q researchers.
“I was shocked to hear them talking about the best ways to monetize, brand, and make money off the Q movement. I sat and listened for a minute. They told me they liked the way I branded my art into my channel, asked me some questions. I left. I clicked out.”
Another YouTuber named Isaac Green (known online as AntiSchool) also opened up about being contacted by a leading baker named “FarmerFunk,” who tried to entice him to turn his channel into a “baker’s corner,” saying, “I told you that this would be a brand that would last long after Q drifts away. Build your brand wisely, sir.”
This post and other Q-critical videos and posts have since been deleted. Green told The Federalist that he “didn’t want to be associated” with QAnon, while emphasizing that QAnon is not legitimate in any way. He added that he’s experienced “cyberstalking and harassment” from Q followers.