Once a fringe online movement, the QAnon conspiracy is gaining traction with some former Trump administration officials latching on to the trend.
Twitter has launched a broad crackdown against accounts promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory, banning more than 7,000 accounts and taking down web links and hashtags associated with the movement that has built up around the viral trend.
Popular among supporters of the US President Donald Trump, QAnon advocates believe, without any evidence, that the world is being run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping elites who engage in ritualistic sacrifices and paedophilia.
Figures at the centre of the conspiracy theory include the billionaire financier George Soros, Trump’s predecessor as president, Barack Obama, and his 2016 presidential race rival, Hillary Clinton.
Believers in the conspiracy theory hold that Trump is trying to fight back against deep state actors involved in the conspiracy.
The movement has also absorbed previous conspiracy theories, such as the Pizzagate conspiracy, which claims Democrat deep state actors engaged in acts of paedophilia and murder while communicating in a code made up of Italian dishes, such as pizza, pasta, and cheese sauce.
The name QAnon stems from an anonymous user on the 4Chan and later 8Chan message boards who left cryptic posts in which they claimed to have Q level US government clearance and information about deep state movements, as well as efforts to counter the satanic paedophilic cabal.
Although, all of the predictions of arrests and executions made by Q failed to come true, the popularity of the movement continues to grow.
Despite being widely mocked and refuted on social media and by US news outlets, QAnon has gained steam with endorsements by former Trump National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn, and 11 Republican candidates standing for Congress in the upcoming 2020 election.
US police officers have been photographed wearing Q symbols and the imagery is also observable at Trump rallies.
The FBI has described the QAnon movement as a domestic terror threat and some subscribers to the conspiracy theory have engaged in acts of terror or intimidation.
In Canada, a man with QAnon beliefs was arrested after crashing his car into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s residence, allegedly as part of a failed assassination attempt on the politician using assault rifles.
In 2019, a suspect in the murder of a New York city mob boss, said he carried out the murder because of the victim’s ties to the deep state cabal, which QAnon believers say is running paedophilia networks.