Devotees of Qanon — a far-right conspiracy theory about President Donald Trump’s secret war against Hillary Clinton, the so-called deep state and a fictitious global child sex cabal — are showing their devotion to the cause by buying merchandise, including T-shirts, hats, and jewelry, on Amazon.com.
Shoppers are presented with over 1,000 results when they search Amazon for the term “Qanon,” a baseless and convoluted theory that mirrors 2016’s “pizzagate” conspiracy, which claimed Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring out of a Washington pizza shop’s basement and led to a shooting at that restaurant by a pizzagate-believer in 2016.
A variety of T-shirts and hats adorned with “Q” and white rabbits are available for purchase and free Amazon Prime shipping. Qanon followers can also buy coffee mugs, bumper stickers, mobile phone cases and grips, pet collars, books and rap songs all on Amazon. Several of the products were branded with an “Amazon’s Choice” label, though those labels were removed after an inquiry from NBC News.
Amazon declined to comment on the sales.
Amazon has routinely had problems policing what is sold on its massive e-commerce platform, on which independent companies are able to reach customers while giving Amazon a cut of the sales.
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The retail giant was criticized this month following a report that their platform was functioning as a marketplace for white supremacist and racist merchandise, including baby onesies adorned with burning crosses associated with the Ku Klux Klan, as well as Nazi action figures.
That hasn’t done much to slow Amazon’s growth. The retail giant reported $1.6 billion in profit during the first quarter of 2018 — double what it made during the same time last year.
Amazon isn’t alone in profiting off of Qanon. QDrops, which helps users keep track of Qanon posts, is one of the most popular paid entertainment apps. This week, after an NBC News inquiry, Apple pulled it from its iTunes store. Developed by a husband and wife team in North Carolina, the app remains in Google’s Play store.
Meanwhile, billboards promoting smaller websites that sell Qanon apparel and other items have popped up in Georgia and Oklahoma. And on social media, where platforms measure success by engagement, Qanon followers are active. Though Reddit banned a pizzagate subsection in 2016, more than 41,000 users currently subscribe to the Qanon page “r/greatawakening.” On Facebook, dozens of Qanon pages and groups, each with tens of thousands of members and followers, offer a place to meet and obsess over Qanon clues and offshoot theories.
Since its birth in October of last year, the Qanon conspiracy theory has spread from the fringe forums 4chan and 8chan to more widely used platforms like Reddit and Facebook. Conservative celebrities including Roseanne Barr, Curt Schilling and Alex Jones from Infowars have helped amplify the theory, which has often had real-world implications.
In Tucson, Arizona, Q followers falsely claimed an abandoned homeless encampment was a child sex trafficking camp even after getting local law enforcement to investigate. In June, an armed Q follower blocked an entrance to the Hoover Dam with his vehicle. And at recent Trump rallies, as documented by Will Sommer from The Daily Beast, families and children have been pictured wearing Qanon shirts and hats.
While numerous internet sites sell Qanon gear, Amazon seems to be most popular with followers in the closed Facebook groups where they congregate online.
“I ordered Q T shirts on amazon last week for my husband and I to wear at our 4th of July parade,” one Q fan posted in a closed Facebook group devoted to the conspiracy. “Got my #Qanon shirt off Amazon and love it!!” said another.
When one user posted that Q followers needed “to find a way to identify each other without coming out and saying ‘do you follow Q?’. Like some kind of name for ourselves,” commenters suggested clothing was the best way to self-identify.
“Holy crap,” someone replied. “They have them on amazon.”