Leading QAnon promoter ran a website infested with child exploitation — and resisted efforts to stop it
QAnon supporters (Shutterstock)

On Monday, Mother Jones revealed that a crucial early pusher of the QAnon conspiracy theory — which holds that the government is secretly controlled by a cult of Satanic child-trafficking cannibals — ironically once ran a site infested with illegal child sexual exploitation, and resisted all warnings and efforts to clean it up.

Specifically, the report took a deep dive into how Jim Watkins, the owner of the QAnon-heavy site 8chan, managed content moderation at an earlier website that had similar problems.

"Over the years, Watkins and his team took special steps to keep the Q posts coming and purportedly verify their provenance, ensuring the poster’s continued access to their followers," reported Ari Breland. "While 8chan’s historic association with child sexual abuse material is familiar to close observers of the QAnon conspiracy, Mother Jones has reviewed a little-known archive documenting conversations in the moderation channel of Pink, an earlier internet forum, that capture Watkins, the site’s administrator, pushing for a hands-off approach to the moderation of child porn-related content there."

"Entries in the archive, created between 2004 and 2018, show he was slow to address concerns about child pornography and sometimes dismissed advice from moderators seeking to stop the spread of potentially illegal content," continued the report. "They repeatedly record moderators of Watkins’ forum coming to him for advice on how to handle issues related to child sex abuse material and pedophilic content, and Watkins responding with blasé indifference."

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In one case, a moderator straight-up asked Watkins to admit that he doesn't care if Pink was "viewed as dating service or child porn exchange BBS" because of the high volume of that content there. And Watkins responded, “Let me drink some coffee before I read this deeply.”

In another, a moderator asked for permission to delete a thread titled, "Rape scene of a primary school student," and Watkins initially said to leave it up because there were no actual links to such content in the thread — only relenting when other users pointed out that in fact there were. In yet another case, Watkins fired a moderator for removing images of children who were not naked but in sexually explicit positions, after users complained that was too harsh.

Jim Watkins' son, Ron, has been accused by experts of actually being one of the anonymous authors of the "Q" posts, which he denies. The younger Watkins is now running for Congress in Arizona, and has ties to prominent Republican candidates, including Trump-backed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

You can read more here.