What is QAnon, this conspiracy movement associated with the Capitol invasion?

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Paris | QAnon, now officially banned from major digital platforms, was born in 2017 in the United States to supporters of Donald Trump. The conspiracy movement is on a crusade against “an elite made up of satanist pedophiles”. His supporters were widely represented during the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6.

• Read also: YouTube suspends Trump’s channel

• Read also: Who are the Capitol rioters?

What is QAnon?

In 2016, the Pizzagate affair, a rumor that a Washington pizzeria was used as a haunt for a pedophile Democratic elite, found enormous resonance in conspiracy circles and contributed to the birth of the QAnon “theory” the following year.

It owes its name to a certain Q, a mysterious official who works to thwart a “deep state”, an organization of senior public officials involved in pedophile networks, seeking to establish a “new world order”. Only US President Donald Trump could thwart this plan.

On social networks, QAnon “is a sponge for conspiracy theories. Everything is good to take, from anti-Semitic mythologies to 5G or masks, passing through science fiction, ”and the different theories feed off each other, according to Tristan Mendès France, professor of digital cultures at the University of Paris.

QAnon has been considered a potential terrorist threat in the United States since 2019.

What is QAnon, this conspiracy movement associated with the Capitol invasion?

What evolution since its formation?

Thanks to the health crisis of COVID-19 and the fears it causes, the American theory is gaining a foothold in Europe, online, but also during demonstrations against health measures in Germany, London or Paris, where QAnon slogans were waved.

The period of uncertainty, the anxiety-provoking climate, the drop in people’s confidence in their governments and institutions constitute fertile ground for these conspiracy theories, underline the specialists.

• Read also: After Facebook and YouTube, Alexis Cossette-Trudel is banned from Twitter

The recurring links with the extreme right also worry researchers.

But this movement is above all American. It reached its climax on January 6, during the invasion of the Capitol. QAnon rioters, like Jake Angeli who had already been seen numerous times during pro-Trump protests, strut inside the Capitol. Angeli, who identifies himself as a “digital soldier from QAnon”, has been arrested.

What is QAnon, this conspiracy movement associated with the Capitol invasion?

What supports declared?

Donald Trump has always refused to explicitly condemn the conspiracy movement.

One of its activists, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a clear supporter of QAnon, won a seat in the US Congress on November 3, 2020.

Marjorie Taylor Greene


Marjorie Taylor Greene

“’Q’ is a patriot,” she said in 2017.

Lauren Boebert, a candidate in Colorado who appeared on several pro-QAnon online shows, was also elected to the House of Representatives. However, she claimed to have distanced herself from the movement.

Lauren Boebert

Twenty other candidates claiming to be this way were running for Congress during the November 3 elections, such as Mike Cargilemais in California or Antoine Tucker in New York. But only Ms. Taylor Greene and Ms. Boebert were elected.

In Europe, some personalities have popularized the QAnon theses, such as the German singer Xavier Naidoo, or Attila Hildmann, a vegan cook who participated in the anti-mask protests in Berlin in early September.

What future ?

The Facebook platform claims to have cracked down on QAnon’s conspiratorial movements, by deleting accounts and investing in a program to verify information.

Twitter announced Monday that it had “permanently suspended” 70,000 accounts affiliated with the movement, to prevent them from using the social network for violent purposes. This announcement comes after the final suspension of the account of the outgoing president, accused of having incited violence and called his supporters to march on the Capitol.

The Twitter account of Quebec conspirator Alexis Cossette-Trudel has also been suspended as part of this operation.

Tristan Mendès France explains that, deprived of Facebook and Twitter, QAnon supporters flock to alternative networks like Parler, Gab or Telegram.

• Read also: The conservative social network Parler is no longer responding

“The problem is that the switch to these radical platforms exposes more to radicalization the members of the + soft fringe + of the movement (soft Trumpists, defenders of children …)”, he worries.

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