Is The QAnon Conspiracy Really Just The Result Of A Prank?

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QAnon, the conspiracy group that claims President Donald Trump was chosen by members of the military to bring down a pedophile ring, may have been a prank all along.

Anonymous, a hacking collective, announced that its hackers are working on exposing “QAnon,” the conspiracy theory and the support group that formed after a person on the message board 4chan first started spreading false information about an underground pedophile ring.

In a video, Anonymous vowed to dismantle QAnon, calling it a dangerous movement driven by a “brainless political agenda.”

“We will not sit idly by while you take advantage of the misinformed and poorly educated,” the hacking group said, explaining that while they thought the idea was funny at first, they now believe that carrying on with the conspiracy can become dangerous.  

“Someone is going to get hurt, so we have to put our foot down and start some sh*t with you all,” the group explained.

Last year, a 4chan user claimed to have a Q clearance within the President Donald Trump administration, which would give the individual security authorization at the Department of Energy and access to top-secret national security information.

While QAnon is associated with a series of conspiracies, the heart of the claims involves Trump being picked by members of the U.S. military and asked to become president so they could fight an evil global organization of Satanist pedophiles. Part of this conspiracy is the idea that FBI’s special counsel Robert Mueller is actually working with Trump, and is using the Russia investigation as a cover to look into Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

According to a BuzzFeed report, while it’s incredibly difficult to identify one person associated with QAnon, some leads show that, perhaps, the whole thing was initially meant to be a prank, targeting older conservatives to “expose” them for the incredible things they are willing to believe in to support the president.

One of these leads includes a 1999 novel called "Q," which was written by Roberto Bui, Giovanni Cattabriga, Federico Guglielmi, and Luca Di Meo under the name “Luther Blissett.”

Blisset was a name adopted by '90s left-leaning anarchists in Italy to stage pranks. The plot is eerily similar to the QAnon conspiracy theory, telling the story of “Q,” a spy for the Catholic Church, going after an Anabaptist religious radical.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, the authors explained that the novel is a “playbook” or an “operations manual” for “cultural disruption.”  

"Coincidences are hard to ignore," Bui, Cattabriga, and Guglielmi said. "Dispatches signed 'Q' allegedly coming from some dark meanders of top state power, exactly like in our book."

One of the conspiracies spewed by QAnon is that John F. Kennedy Jr. never died but instead faked his own death in 1999, becoming QAnon. But 1999 is the same year “Q” was published.

"We can't say for sure that it's an homage," the authors said. "But one thing is almost certain: our book has something to do with it. It may have started as some sort of, er, 'fan fiction' inspired by our novel, and then quickly became something else."

With 4chan trolls now claiming QAnon was always meant as a prank on "older conservatives," and the fact that the very authors of “Q” say this story hits close to home, especially among left-leaning anarchists, Anonymous may feel the uncontrollable support for the conspiracy will end up hurting people.

Recently, an armed man showed up outside lawyer Michael Avenatti’s office, and according to the authors, this is just the beginning.

"Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There's no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who's pulling it on whom?" the authors said.

Whomever decided to show conservatives just how gullible they are may now be in danger of being targeted by the largest group of independent hackers the world knows. But as aforementioned, it might be too late as the movement has grown from a silly theory to a harmful ideology. 

Banner and thumbnail credit: Flickr, Elvert Barnes

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