QAnon Followers Implode
As Joe Biden was sworn in as president, QAnon followers finally saw their hope for the “storm”—when President Donald Trump would bring down the “deep state” and expose a far-reaching child-sex-trafficking ring—disappear, leaving followers of the unhinged conspiracy theory in despair and searching for answers, while one of the most prominent adherents gave up.
Forbes –– QAnon adherents appeared to have fractured into two groups on popular far-right message boards Wednesday, with some realizing their crackpot conspiracy theory was a fraud, while others tried to somehow keep the flame of the Crazy Candle alive.
Ron Watkins, the founder of 8chan who is one of several people suspected of being the anonymous poster “Q” who spawned the conspiracy theory, conceded shortly after Biden was sworn in, telling his supporters it was time for believers to keep their “chins up” and “go back to our lives.”
Ron Watkins, the former 8kun admin who helped keep QAnon afloat for years (and who some suspected of being Q himself), is throwing in the towel. pic.twitter.com/HJdBrOexO2
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) January 20, 2021
Up until the final minute of Trump’s presidency, some QAnon adherents were cheering for Trump to do something spectacular, with one instructing fellow followers Wednesday morning to “pray” because the next five hours would “determine the fate of the world.” They got that part right.
That optimism unraveled for some as the day wore on, especially after Trump gave no hints of a plan to take over the U.S. in his final speech at Joint Base Andrews, with one user lamenting on Telegram that “it simply doesn’t make sense that we all got played.”
Moderators of some pro-QAnon message boards warned followers who turned their backs on the conspiracy theory after the inauguration would be banned:
Moderators on the biggest QAnon forum now banning people who don't keep the faith after Inauguration. They're having a hard time enforcing it.
"Can someone explain how this is not over?" reads the top response. pic.twitter.com/8xy2QWrUB2
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) January 20, 2021
Others sought to move the goalposts, picking out passages from Trump’s speech and Eric Trump’s farewell post on Twitter as signs of hope.
By midday, a new spin to the conspiracy theory gripped the far-right message boards: Biden has been their savior all along, a twist multiple QAnon influencers threw their support behind.
“Biden is Q” a post on the donald.win read, while others brushed aside that theory and urged believers to stick with Trump.
A user in the new Telegram channel for disillusioned former QAnon supporters calls out the QAnon influencers who pushed the "Biden was part of QAnon all along" claim today, claiming they only care about "potential profits being lost if the we emotionally detach from the lie." pic.twitter.com/N4qQpkhkg8
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) January 20, 2021