Confidential

QAnon 2023 Outlook: Post-Trump Presidency

QAnon
Donald J Trump rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota. QAnon supporter spotted in the crowd. Photo by Tony Webster via Wikimedia commons.

Summary:

QAnon is a theory-based conspiracy movement that originated on the Internet in October 2017. (Source) An anonymous user “Q” posted several messages about the arrest of Hillary Clinton. In 2023, QAnon is likely to take a violent turnaround. Since the first post in 2017, the significant rise of posts and news has been observable. Theories about corrupted democratic elites of paedophiles ruling the world initiated a new conspiracy movement known as QAnon.

The QAnon movement did not represent a threat to national security in the past. However, the new wave of supporters is more likely to engage in violent extremism than previous followers. (Source) As a result, QAnon can become a threat to the United States national security.

Key Judgement 1

It is unlikely that in 2023 QAnon will lose a significant number of supporters.

  • Due to the failure of QAnon prophesies and conspiracies, some supporters will likely lose faith and eventually abandon the movement. However, conspiracy theory-based movements possess several coping mechanisms. (Source) These mechanisms allow the movement to change the prophesies. Therefore the majority of Qsupporters will not lose hope, remaining faithful to the campaign. (Source)

  • A decrease of QAnon supporters happened after the failure of the “Great Awakening” in March 2021. (Source) However, the wave of new believers will not decrease, as conspiracies represent a powerful tool to evade objective reality.

  • The new wave of QAnon supporters can risk approaching more radical ideas. Blind beliefs in extremist views often lead to mobilization and weaponization. (Source)

Key Judgement 2

In 2023, QAnon supporters will perform violent acts to support their causes.

  • The movement performed violent acts between 2018 and 2020. Therefore, it is likely that QAnon will perpetrate violent attacks. Indeed, since 2018, the group has been accountable for five mass shootings condoned by conspiracies. (Source)

  • QAnon can increase the promotion and the incitation of violence on social media platforms. (Source) Digital communications networks are spaces for extremist ideas and conspiracies to spread. Therefore, these networks will accelerate the process of radicalization of new supporters.

  • Nonetheless, social platforms are likely to shut QAnon groups inciting violence (i.e., Reddit banned several QAnon groups promoting mass violence). (Source) Therefore, the rise of in-person interaction spaces is likely. Some evangelical churches preach Qpropaganda and spread conspiracies (i.e., Global Vision Bible Church in Nashville, TN). (Source)

QAnon
QAnon supporters breached the United States Capitol on January 6th 2021, to overturn the 2020 US presidential election. Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta via NDLA.

Key Judgement 3

It is highly likely that in 2023 the rise of QAnon conspiracies will threaten the social stability of the United States.

  • As QAnon disinformation campaigns are increasing, it will threaten the US social stability. (Source) The movement has already threatened social stability between 2018 and 2020 through disinformation campaigns (i.e., Trump retaking presidency and Covid-19 speculations). The endanger of social stability will eventually lead to violence.

  • Compared to other threats to US security based on factual events (i.e., terrorism or mass atrocities), the QAnon movement can be more dangerous and frightening as a group based on conspiracies. Freedom of speech is an inalienable right in the US and therefore it is easier to spread disinfomation.

  • Social media companies can temporarily halt online disinformation campaigns and online groups. Facebook has recently banned every group, page, or post that promoted QAnon. (Source) Indeed, conspiracy threatens social stability because it creates conflict between a democracy and a portion of the population, therefore, creating social disorder. Nonetheless, the rise of conspiracy theories is unstoppable. (Source)

Author

Bianca Bonardi

Bianca is a graduate student in Criminology at Goldsmiths College of London. She recently finished her post-graduate studies in Terrorism and Security at King's College of London. Her research is mainly focused on Middle East issues and International Terrorist threats.

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