Former President Donald Trump has boosted content from accounts supporting QAnon conspiracy theories on his platform Truth Social at an accelerated rate since the FBI investigated the Florida country club resort he calls home. In doing so, Trump has finally eliminated any of the plausible deniability previously afforded him in his previous encounters with false conspiracy theorists.
It’s no coincidence that QAnon supporters use the former president’s social media platform, Truth Social. Appealing to them was an explicitly stated strategy to build his user base.
Media Matters senior researcher Alex Kaplan recounted efforts by CEO and former congressman Devin Nunes and onetime board member and Trump administration official Kash Patel to engage the community, including early promotion of an account that appeared to mimic the pseudonymous author, “Q ”—the heart of the QAnon movement.
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Truth Social has verified 47 accounts promoting QAnon with more than 10,000 followers each, according to a NewsGuard analysis. According to Kaplan, Trump used his Truth Social account on the platform to boost at least 50 separate accounts supporting QAnon to its more than 4 million followers.
Kaplan, in a phone interview, said QAnon content “plays an important role in the Truth Social ecosystem” and that Trump’s sharing of content from QAnon accounts since the FBI investigated Mar-a-Lago echoes the history of doing the same on Twitter. before they are forbidden to him. Trump had shared posts from QAnon accounts before the FBI probe, but Kaplan said the saturation of such content on Truth Social’s feed was especially high after the search.
“There always seems to be a correlation between how often Trump boosts QAnon accounts and the times where I would say he’s under pressure,” Kaplan told the Daily Beast. “QAnon accounts are usually the ones giving him praise and reassurance, which I’m sure he likes.”
Being a man who values loyalty to himself above all else, Trump certainly appreciates an online community that imagines himself as a royal figure engaged in a secret battle against his perceived enemies. And although large parts of the movement have evolved from riddles left in one of the internet’s many cesspools, they continue to generate a steady stream of nonsense for Trump and his defenders to pluck and deploy a smoke screen they hope will separate from any semblance of accountability.
Last month, Trump posted a video on his Truth Social account that contained an audio track that QAnon followers and researchers believed was titled “WW1WGA”: a catchphrase of the conspiracy movement. A representative for Trump disputed the identity of the song, telling Vice News that the song was actually called “Mirrors” by composer Will Van De Crommert. Experts said the songs were identical, though Vice reported that “Mirrors” was uploaded online a year before its QAnon-titled copy. Regardless, the QAnon community at Truth Social stated the video as proof that the author of Q was who they thought he was. Kaplan said that between the video and Trump’s repeated sharing of content from QAnon accounts, conspiracy theorists are “noticing that [pattern] and taking it as a sign’ have been right all along.
True believers believe that Q was a high-level government official with knowledge of an imaginary secret plan by Trump to thwart political, intelligence, business and entertainment leaders who are orchestrating the global downfall and engaging in satanic forms of child sexual abuse. Forensic linguists and documentarians suspected that Ron Watkins, infamous for his role as an administrator on the forum where Q posts were found for most of the author’s active time online, was actually responsible for at least some of the posts.
Since its debut in 2017, Q has gone on to publish thousands of cryptic messages that have formed the basis for a living tapestry of conspiracy theories that would help lead many people to criminal acts, including violence, kidnapping, terrorist threats, murder, and involvement in Ian 6 Riot in the Capitol. The movement built around the Q posts gained so much traction that the FBI would identify it by name in a 2019 memo about the threats posed by extreme conspiracy theorists to national security.
Despite these obvious dangers, Trump and his family members, lawyers, and valued political allies have reconciled with conspiracy theorists in one form or another.
The characteristic language used by QAnon supporters has receded on mainstream social media platforms, but many of the communities and influencers that brought his theories to life remain intact on alternatives, now including Truth Social. Although the community largely outgrew its obsession with Q’s thoughts, leading some writers to mistakenly identify the movement as dead, followers of the theories remained energetic and active. Some have put their eyes above their keyboards, choosing to run for office or join a national voter boycott movement that has enlisted the allegiance of nearly half of the Republican candidates on the ballot this fall. An influencer is expressly hoping to influence the election this year.
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Throughout his presidency, Trump avoided every opportunity to distance himself from the QAnon crowds who obsessed over his every hand movement and every turn of phrase. “I understand they like me a lot, which I appreciate,” he told reporters in the White House briefing room in 2020. When asked again about QAnon during a town hall interview with NBC News, Trump refused to say the theory was false and claimed he didn’t know before saying he heard his followers “are very against pedophilia.” The former president’s recent and reinvigorated embrace of the movement’s supporters should reveal just how foolish these dismissals were.
Trump’s business partners have welcomed them onto his platform, and it’s clear he likes what he sees.
It is past time to withdraw whatever plausible deniability has been given to Trump’s love of his most conspiratorial supporters. It is right in front of our faces, in a place called Truth.
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