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What happened to QAnon after the storming of the US Capitol?

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By The Cube
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Jacob Chansley, also known as the Qanon Shaman, was jailed after the storming of the Capitol.
Jacob Chansley, also known as the Qanon Shaman, was jailed after the storming of the Capitol.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File

On January 6, 2021, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building, fuelled by false information that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen".

Amid the deadly riots, many could be seen wearing clothes or holding banners bearing the large letter "Q".

These referred to QAnon, an unfounded conspiracy theory that gained traction not just in the United States, but also in Europe.

Its followers believe that there is an elite of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who traffic children for sexual purposes.

The QAnon movement posits that former president Trump took office in 2017 to take down this "deep state" of satanic Democrats and celebrities. Despite no evidence to support the theory, QAnon was thrust into the limelight at the Capitol.

In the aftermath, some were arrested and jailed for their roles in the Capitol riots, with many more still sought by US authorities.

And when Joe Biden was inaugurated two weeks later without incident, there were questions about whether the movement had disappeared.

One prominent QAnon voice even wrote on Telegram how "we gave it our all ... now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able".

What happened next?

Following the January 6 insurrection, groups of QAnon followers were removed from popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The moves forced the conspiracists to form echo chambers on alternative "free speech" sites such as Gab or Parler, where there are fewer users and limited regulation.

There, QAnon has continued to thrive while its users have watered down their language and made their support more discreet.

One of the last posts by the anonymous user "Q" informed followers to remove any references to QAnon from their posts.

This seemingly aimed to avoid censorship, while allowing the baseless theories to continue to spread — and not just about a satanic elite.

Followers of QAnon are also known to have shared misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and climate change.

As experts have previously told Euronews, “belief in one conspiracy is highly associated with belief in others”.

Qanon supporters still campaign offline

One of the most notable people who has previously endorsed QAnon is Marjorie Taylor Greene, a US congresswoman for Georgia.

This week, her accounts were suspended by both Twitter and Facebook for spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

Despite this, Taylor Greene has continued to share unfounded claims and she could soon be joined in the US Congress.

A 2021 report by the liberal website Media Matters stated that 49 QAnon supporters are running for election in the United States in 2022.

Meanwhile, other QAnon followers are reportedly running for smaller positions in schools and local law enforcement agencies across the country.

In what analysts are describing as a "secret war," conspiracists could still use their positions to influence school textbooks and local regulations, even without using the name QAnon.