By Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg | Washington Post
The administrator of 8kun, the longtime Internet home of the mysterious Q, says it’s time to move on, and a moderator on Wednesday wiped Q’s ‘drops’ from the website.
Who is the anonymous ‘Q’? Is it Donald Trump? Vladamir Putin or someone else?
Followers of the extremist ideology QAnon saw their hopes once again dashed Wednesday as President Trump left Washington on the final day of his presidency, without any of the climactic scenes of violence and salvation that the sprawling set of conspiracy theories had preached for years would come.
As Trump boarded Air Force One for his last presidential flight to Florida, many QAnon adherents — some of whose fellow believers had earlier this month stormed the Capitol in a siege that left at least two QAnon devotees dead and others in jail — began to wonder whether they’d been duped all along.
When one QAnon channel on the chat app Telegram posted a new theory that suggested Biden himself was “part of the plan,” a number of followers shifted into open rebellion: “This will never happen.” “Just stfu already!” “It’s over. It is sadly, sadly over.” “What a fraud!”
Late Wednesday, the movement suffered another blow when the “Q Research” forum on 8kun, QAnon’s online home, was wiped clean by a site moderator, who said in a rambling screed that “I am just performing euthanasia to something I once loved very very much.” Shortly after, the site’s leaders restored the deleted material and demanded the moderator’s death.
But while some QAnon disciples gave way to doubt, others doubled down on blind belief or strained to see new coded messages in the Inauguration Day’s events. Some followers noted that 17 flags — Q being the 17th letter of the alphabet — flew on the stage as Trump delivered a farewell address.
“17 flags! come on now this is getting insane,” said one post on a QAnon forum devoted to the “Great Awakening,” the quasi-biblical name for QAnon’s utopian end times. “I don’t know how many signs has to be given to us before we ‘trust the plan,’” one commenter said.
Over thousands of cryptic posts since 2017, Q, QAnon’s unidentified online prophet, had promised that Trump was secretly spearheading a spiritual war against an elite cabal of child-eating Satanists who controlled Washington, Hollywood and the world. Believers in these false, rambling theories had counted down the hours waiting for Trump to corral his enemies for military tribunals and mass executions in a show of force they called “the Storm.”
One QAnon channel on Telegram with 40,000 subscribers noted that the last sentence of Eric Trump’s farewell tweet — “ … the best is yet to come!” — was also a common slogan for QAnon adherents, failing to mention that the phrase is a commonly used cliche. Another QAnon channel with 35,000 Telegram subscribers, devoted to the “Great Awakening,” highlighted Trump’s final remarks as president: “We will be back in some form — Have a good life. We will see you soon.”