A year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the conspiracy group that helped fuel the "big lie" has evolved like a virus in its efforts to stay alive.
BusinessInsider reported Tuesday that the most important form of activism is in running for local offices. While the world of Q began with conspiracy theories about a Washington pizza parlor with a child blood factory in the basement, they evolved to being part of those who promoted President Donald Trump as not only a savior but the 2020 election winner.
The report cited QAnon members captured on photos and videos during the attack, including Jacob Chansley, who referred to himself as the QAnon Shaman.
It has been a year since the person who identified themselves as "Q" appeared on the messaging site 8kun to deliver prophecies and "intelligence" from inside the government.
"In the absence of 'Q' and of Trump being on television 24/7, a lot of the power has shifted to influencers," the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab's fellow Jared Holt told Insider. The lab researches and follows online conspiracy theories like those espoused by Q.
Due to the violence on Jan. 6, social media sites have purged those affiliated with Q, which has sent them to organize on sites like Parler and Gab or with messengers like Telegram.
Holt explained to Insider that it means "the really hardcore sh*t has a home-field advantage" because none of it is moderated. Casual believers can then be even further radicalized by extremists. However, allowing extremists groups to coordinate on a platform likely isn't the best for brands.
"I think it's detrimental that these groups have been sealed off into their own uncensored echo chamber that doesn't break through to the mainstream," said the host of "QAnon Anonymous," Jake Rockatansky.
Without a messiah, however, followers are anointing their own celebrities like Lin Wood and 8chan administrator Ron Watkins.
"People are looking more to the influencers themselves for direction, less relying on them to translate a medium," Holt told Insider. They're not looking at the influencers as people who can deliver Q's message, they're seeing the influencers as "the medium itself."
Since Biden took office, Holt said the followers have broken off into other groups as many of the Q celebrities found they could grow their following with other culture war issues or conspiracy theories.
One group has flocked to Dallas, Texas awaiting the return of John F. Kennedy, Jr., who died in a plane crash over two decades ago. They believe that the younger Kennedy will join President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in 2024.
Another group has been pushing a ban on teaching about issues like slavery and civil rights in schools under the guise of a law school idea called "critical race theory."
Others have been part of the movement to oppose the COVID-19 vaccine, mask mandates and lockdowns. An affiliated group promotes a series of drugs like livestock dewormer, the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and various other things.
Then there are the candidates and campaigns. With 49 QAnon supporters in 15 states running for office, the 2022 midterm elections are expected to pit what's left of the normal GOP and the far-right wing officials like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Rep. Lauren Boebert.
"I think other people in the movement who are looking to speed up 'the Plan' or speed up 'the Storm,'" Rockatansky said. That is part of a QAnon belief that a large group of famous people will be arrested or executed. He thinks that's part of the agenda for those running for office. Candidates believe they can find these people to help spur the arrests and executions.
The one-year anniversary of Jan. 6 may only be the beginning of the strengthening of the QAnon community as it begins the 2022 campaign season.
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