Q&a là gì

Pushing the theory on to lớn bigger platforms proved to lớn be the key to lớn Qanon’s spread — and the originators’ financial gain.

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David Reinert holds a large "Q" sign while waiting lớn see President Donald Trump at a rally in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 2, 2018. "Q" represents QAnon, a conspiracy theory group that has been seen at recent rallies.Rick Loomis / Getty Images
In November 2017, a small-time YouTube video creator and two moderators of the 4chan trang web, one of the most extreme message boards on the internet, banded together & plucked out of obscurity an anonymous & cryptic post from the many conspiracy theories that populated the website"s message board.

Over the next several months, they would create videos, a Reddit community, a business & an entire mythology based off the 4chan posts of “Q,” the pseudonym of a person claiming to be a high-ranking military officer. The theory they espoused would become Qanon, & it would eventually make its way from those message boards khổng lồ national truyền thông media stories và the rallies of President Donald Trump.


Now, the people behind that effort are at the center of a fractious debate ahy vọng conspiracy enthusiasts, some of whom believe sầu the three people who first popularized the Qanon theory are promoting it in order khổng lồ make a living. Others suggest that these original followers actually wrote Q’s mysterious posts.

While the identity of the original author or authors behind “Q” is still unknown, the history of the conspiracy theory’s spread is well-documented — through YouTube videos, social truyền thông posts, Reddit archives, & public records reviewed by NBC News.

NBC News has found that the theory can be traced baông chồng to lớn three people who sparked some of the first conversation about Qanon and, in doing so, attracted followers who they then asked to help fund Qanon “retìm kiếm.”

Qanon is a convoluted conspiracy theory with no apparent foundation in reality. The heart of it asserts that for the last year the anonymous “Q” has taken lớn the fringe mạng internet message boards of 4chan and 8chan to lớn leak intelligence about Trump’s top-secret war with a cabal of criminals run by politicians lượt thích Hillary Clinton và the Hollywood elite. There is no evidence for these claims.


In addition khổng lồ peeking inlớn the mainstream, the theory has been increasingly linked khổng lồ real-world violence. In recent months, Qanon followers have sầu allegedly been involved in a foiled presidential assassination plot, a devastating California wildfire, và an armed standoff with local law enforcement officers in Arizona.

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Part of the Qanon appeal lies in its game-like quality. Followers wait for clues left by “Q” on the message board. When the clues appear, believers dissect the riddle-lượt thích posts alongside Trump’s speeches & tweets và news articles in an effort khổng lồ validate the main narrative that Trump is winning a war against evil.

There are now dozens of commentators who dissect “Q” posts — on message boards, in YouTube videos and on their personal pages — but the theory was first championed by a handful of people who worked together to lớn stir discussion of the “Q” posts, eventually pushing the theory on to lớn bigger platforms & gaining followers — a strategy that proved lớn be the key to lớn Qanon’s spread và the originators’ financial gain.

The anons

Before Q, there was a wide variety of “anon” 4chan posters all claiming lớn have sầu special government access.


In năm nhâm thìn, there was FBIAnon, a self-described “high-cấp độ analyst and strategist” offering intel about the năm nhâm thìn investigation into lớn the Clinton Foundation. Then came HLIAnon, an acronym for High Level Insider, who posted about various dubious conspiracies in riddles, including one that claimed Princess Diana had been killed because she found out about 9/11 “beforehand” and had “tried lớn stop it.” Then “CIAAnon” and “CIA Intern” took lớn the boards in early 2017, & last August one called WH Insider Anon offered a supposed pReviews that something that was “going lớn go down” regarding the DNC & leaks.

Qanon was just another unremarkable part of the “anon” genre until November 2017, when two moderators of the 4chan board where Q posted predictions, who went by the usernames Pamphlet Anon and BaruchtheScribe, reached out to Tracy Diaz, according khổng lồ Diaz’s blogs và YouTube videos. BaruchtheScribe, in reality a self-identified website programmer from South Africa named Paul Furber, confirmed that account to NBC News.

“A bunch of us decided that the message needed to lớn go wider so we contacted Youtubers who had been commenting on the Q drops,” Furber said in an gmail.

Diaz, a small-time YouTube star who once hosted a talk show on the fringe right-wing network Liberty Movement Radio, had found moderate popularity with a couple of thousand views for her YouTube videos analyzing WikiLeaks releases và discussing the "pizzagate" conspiracy, a baseless theory that alleged a child sex ring was being run out of a Washington pizza siêu thị.


As Diaz tells it in a blog post detailing her role in the early days of Qanon, she banded together with the two moderators. Their goal, according to lớn Diaz, was lớn build a following for Qanon — which would mean bigger followings for them as well.

On Nov. 3, 2017, just six days after the first 4chan post from “Q,” Diaz posted a video entitled “/POL/- Q Clearance Anon - Is it #happening???” in which she introduced the conspiracy theory to lớn her audience.

“I do not typically bởi videos like this,” she said, but citing Q’s “very specific và kind of eerie” posts, Diaz explained that she would be covering the 4chan posts, “just in case this stuff turns out to be legit because honestly it kind of seems legit.”


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That đoạn Clip, which has been viewed nearly 250,000 times, made Diaz one of the earliest people to seize on “Q” posts và decipher them for a conspiracy-hungry audience. Diaz followed with dozens more Q-themed videos, each containing a Hotline for viewers to lớn donate through link to her Patreon và PayPal accounts


Diaz’s YouTube channel now boasts more than 90,000 subscribers and her videos have been watched over 8 million times. More than 97,000 people follow her on Twitter. Diaz, who emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, says in her YouTube videos that she now relies on donations from patrons funding her YouTube “research” as her sole source of income.

Diaz declined khổng lồ comment on this story.

“Because I cover Q, I got an audience,” Diaz acknowledged in a đoạn Clip that NBC News reviewed last week before she deleted it.

Building a movement

To reach a more mainstream audience (older people & “normies,” who on their own would have sầu trouble navigating the fringe message boards), Diaz said in a blog post she recommended they move sầu to lớn the more user-friendly Reddit. Archives listing the three as the original posters và moderators show they created a new Reddit community called CBTS_Stream, short for Calm Before The Storm, where subscribers soon gathered khổng lồ talk all things Q.


Their move sầu to lớn Reddit was key to lớn Qanon’s eventual spread. There, they were able to lớn tap inkhổng lồ a larger audience of conspiracy theorists, & drive discussion with their analysis of each Q post. From there, Qanon crept lớn Facebook where it found a new, older audience via dozens of public và private groups.

That audience then started lớn head to lớn 8chan to lớn check out the original source and interact directly with the posts. (Q posts moved from 4chan to its more toxic offshoot 8chan in November after a post claiming the original board had been “infiltrated.” 8chan became notorious for having no rules, và even hosting child pornography.)

8chan’s owner’s official Twitter trương mục marveled at the influx of older, less internet-savvy visitors lớn his site, drawn by Qanon. “We joked about it for years, but #Qanon is making it a reality: Boomers! On your imageboard.”

Meanwhile, Diaz kept making videos, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Over the next several months, Diaz & the two moderators picked up tens of thousands of followers on Reddit và YouTube & added even more moderators to their 8chan & Reddit boards.

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They also began khổng lồ break into lớn what might be considered the mainstream of the conspiracy world. Conspiracy theorist Dr. Jerome Corsay mê, an Infowars editor & a best-selling author of books about the “deep state,” had taken an interest in Q and was decoding the messages on the Reddit board. In December, Pamphlet Anon and BaruchtheScribe even made an appearance on InfoWars.


Cormê man has since disavowed the Qanon conspiracy and called the current Q poster “a fraud,” citing a supposed takeover of the channel by someone posing as Q in April. But last week, facing backlash from his base, Corsay mê tweeted that he supports the Qanon movement và its supporters’ “excellent retìm kiếm.”

Soon, as Diaz explained on her blog, their expanding crew was spending all their waking hours in chat rooms on the gaming-focused forums Discord analyzing & decoding Q messages & planning for a larger dissemination of Q’s message.

In March, their Reddit board, which boasted some đôi mươi,000 subscribers, was shut down by Reddit for “encouraging or inciting violence and posting personal and confidential information,” and the moderators — Diaz & the rest — were banned from the site. Furber had already been booted from the site for allegedly threatening khổng lồ reveal the personal details of another user, & was pushed out of the private Q discussion groups he had helped khung.


“I was very definitely banished,” Furber said, noting that he believes Q’s board has been taken over by imposters.

By then, Pamphlet Anon, whose real name is Coleman Rogers, had developed grander plans. (NBC was able to lớn determine Rogers’ identity through property records that link the address where his business is registered khổng lồ his parent’s trang chủ and khổng lồ photos from his personal social truyền thông media account. Those photos show him to be the same person who appears on YouTube as Pamphlet Anon.)

Rogers did not respond khổng lồ calls seeking comment, but acknowledged his receipt of messages from NBC News via his website’s Twitter, writing in part, “WE DO NOT TALK TO FAKE NEWS.”

Network effect

Kicked off Reddit, Rogers hatched a new plan. He would replace the mainstream truyền thông — often a target of Q’s posts — with a constantly streaming YouTube network made up of the self-described “researchers” who were putting together Q’s clues.


Within a month, Rogers, 31, and his wife, Christina Urso, 29, had launched the Patriots’ Soapbox, a round-the-cloông xã livestreamed YouTube channel for Qanon study và discussion. The channel is, in effect, a broadcast of a Discord chatroom with constant audio commentary from a rotating cast of volunteers and moderators with sporadic appearances by Rogers and Urso. In April, Urso registered Patriots’ Soapbox LLC in Virginia.

Rogers and Urso use their channel to lớn Điện thoại tư vấn for donations that are accepted through PayPal, cryptocurrencies or mail.

It was a natural progression for Rogers. A Đánh Giá of Rogers’ Facebook page shows he had been active sầu in mạng internet politics and a staunch supporter of Donald Trump during the năm 2016 chiến dịch, self-identifying as part of the “meme war” — the creation & dissemination of images and internet-style commentary that mạng internet agitators on the chans và Reddit credit with Trump’s win. Rogers often posted memes about “liberal tears” as well as the ludicrous claims that Democrats murdered children và worshipped Satan — details similar khổng lồ those that would eventually size the Qanon theory.

Rogers’ Facebook updates waned after Trump took office but started up again in the fall, when he began posting “Q” messages to both confused & supportive family & friends.


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Rogers has publicly denied that he is the author of the “Q” posts, though his last visible Facebook post, published on Aug. 2, hinted that he might someday be associated with the theory.


“Ten bucks says you see my face on national news within a few weeks, saying that I"m ‘the mysterious hacker known as #Qanon,’” Rogers wrote, a reference to a CNN segment that mistakenly referred to lớn the trang web 4chan as a hacker.

Following a request for phản hồi from NBC News, Rogers deleted every post on his Facebook profile after 2014. Following another message from a reporter informing him that NBC News had archived his page, he deleted his Facebook tài khoản entirely.

Tables turned

As Qanon picked up steam, growing skepticism over the motives of Diaz, Rogers, và the other early Qanon supporters led some in the internet’s conspiracy circles to lớn turn their paranoia on the group.


Recently, some Qanon followers have sầu accused Diaz and Rogers of profiting from the movement by soliciting donations from their followers. Other pro-Trump online groups have questioned the roles that Diaz and Rogers have played in promoting Q, pointing to a series of slip-ups that they say show Rogers and Diaz may have been involved in the theory from the start.

Those accusations have sầu led Diaz and Rogers to both deny that they are Q & say they don’t know who Q is. There is no direct proof that the group or any individual members are behind it.

Still, Qanon skeptics have sầu pointed khổng lồ two videos as evidence that Rogers had insider knowledge of Q’s trương mục. Some YouTube channels, like one named Uniroông xã, are mostly dedicated to poring over Patriots’ Soapbox livestreams and dissecting purported slip-ups.

One archived livestream appears lớn show Rogers logging into the 8chan tài khoản of “Q.”The Patriots’ Soapbox feed quickly cuts out after the login attempt. “Sorry, leg cramp,” Rogers says, before the feed reappears seconds later.


Users in the associated chatroom begin lớn wonder if Rogers had accidentally revealed his identity as Q. “How did you post as Q?” one user wrote.

In another livestreamed đoạn Clip, Rogers begins khổng lồ analyze a supposed “Q” post on his livestream program when his co-host points out that the post in question doesn’t actually appear on Q’s feed và was authored anonymously. Rogers’ explanation — that Q must have sầu forgotten to lớn sign in before posting — was criticized as extremely unlikely by people familiar with the message boards, as it would require knowledge of the posting khổng lồ pichồng it out among mỏi hundreds of other anonymous ones.

In part because of the mounting claims against Patriots’ Soapbox, the web’s largest pro-Trump community has banned all mentions of Qanon. Reddit’s 640,000-member community r/The_Donald mix up an autodelete function for mentions of Qanon’s claims, two moderators confirmed to lớn NBC News, believing the group of YouTubers is making posts as Q.

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Still, Patriots’ Soapbox 24-hour livestream remains live sầu on YouTube, broadcasting to lớn its 46,000 subscribers. And despite the growing skepticism of the group, they still have their supporters who ardently believe sầu in the Qanon theory.


“The funniest thing about those who try to discredit Q. They focus on whether Q is real or not, instead of the information being provided,” tweeted one follower. “NO ONE cares who Q is. WE care about the TRUTH.”


Chuyên mục: Kiến Thức