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Online far-right movements fracture in wake of Capitol riot

According to researchers who study the real-life effects of the QAnon movement, the false belief in a secret plan for Jan. 20 is irking militant pro-Trump and anti-government groups.
Image: Trump Supporters Storm US Capitol
Trump supporters and police clash outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Joel Marklund / Bildbyran via ZUMA Press

Online far-right movements are splintering in the wake of last week’s Capitol riot, as some radical anti-government movements show signs of disillusionment with the relatively hands-off approach of some QAnon conspiracy theorists amid warnings of future violence.

Users on forums that openly helped coordinate the Jan. 6 riot and called for insurrection, including 4chan and TheDonald, have become increasingly agitated with QAnon supporters, who are largely still in denial that President Donald Trump will no longer be in the Oval Office after Jan. 20.

QAnon adherents, who believe Trump is secretly saving the world from a cabal of child-eating Satanists, have identified Inauguration Day as a last stand, and falsely think he will force a 10-day, countrywide blackout that ends in the mass execution of his political enemies and a second Trump term.

Several QAnon supporters were arrested after storming the Capitol last week, including Jacob Chansley, whose lawyer said his client believed he was “answering the call of our president.”

QAnon believers have spent the last week forwarding chain letters on Facebook and via text message, often removing the conspiracy theory’s QAnon origins, in an effort to prepare friends and family for what they believe to be the upcoming judgment day.

According to researchers who study the real-life effects of the QAnon movement, the false belief in a secret plan for Jan. 20 is irking militant pro-Trump and anti-government groups, who believe the magical thinking is counterproductive to future insurrections.

Travis View, who hosts the QAnon-debunking podcast QAnon Anonymous, said Q supporters are waiting for a “miracle that prevents Biden from being inaugurated,” and it is beginning to grate on those anxious for more real-world conflict.

“I have seen some Trump supporters chastising people promoting QAnon-like conspiracy theories," he said. "It seems some Trump supporters are reassessing their coalition and laying judgment on the QAnon wing."

The split has become apparent on extremist forums like TheDonald, from which QAnon adherents have fled to an identical sister site due to constant pillorying for their fantastical thinking on the original site. The new website is named after The Great Awakening, the mythical judgment day of mass arrests and executions.

It is also apparent on viral TikToks and Facebook posts on the more mainstream parts of the web.

“I can’t believe the number of the gullible people who are still out there saying Q is going to run to the rescue in the next five days and you’re going to see military tribunals,” a user in one viral TikTok video said. “Look, I’m a full Trump supporter and I enjoyed reading all the stuff about the deep state and I believe most of it.”

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has frequently quibbled with QAnon supporters, also lashed out at believers of the conspiracy theory in a viral video earlier this week.

QAnon supporters have predicted blackouts for years, citing posts from “Q,” the false digital prophet at the center of the conspiracy theory. Q frequently posted about routine outages of major services, alluding to them as potential warning signs of the Great Awakening. In August 2018, Q posted three times about outages on the video game service Xbox Live, wondering “Anybody have problems with their X-Box Live accounts?” to the conspiracy theory’s followers.

While several specific doomsdays have passed without any prophecies coming true, experts who study QAnon believe another failed prophecy on Inauguration Day could further decimate the movement.

Fredrick Brennan, who created the website 8chan where “Q” posts and has spent the last two years attempting to have the site removed from the internet for its ties to white supremacist terror attacks, said he believes reality may devastate the movement on Inauguration Day.

“This week has been hugely demoralizing so far and that will be the final straw,” he said. “Even though Q is at the moment based on Donald Trump, it is certainly possible for a significant faction to rise up that believes he was in the deep state all along and foiled the plan.”