Q DROPS AND THE PROPAGATION OF MISINFORMATION
‘Q drops’ are the primary way believers in Q receive information from the entity. We examined a trove of said ‘drops’ from a public website dedicated to gathering and collating these posts from the depths of 4chan.
Qanon.pub is the primary informational outlet of the Qanon movement. At this website, an anonymous curator going by the tag, “Q”, occasionally drops snippets of conspiracy – laden disinformation. After dropping at qanon.pub, much of the disinformation is redistributed through other online channels such as Facebook groups or chatroom threads. Although social media outlets have recently cracked down on Qanon as a prominent spreader of disinformation, many of the rumors originally propagated by the website have already altered the trajectory of the COVID – 19 pandemic in the United States, degrading health literacy and sowing mistrust in mainstream sources of health information.
Q drops and the Danger of Disinformation in the Era of COVID – 19
In order to understand the gravity of the Qanon movement during the COVID – 19 pandemic, it is important to contextualize the movement in the avalanche of misinformation that has been released over the course of 2020. The increased volume of misinformation has been a hallmark of 2020, a year with immense cultural significance for the American people because of its designation as an election year in addition to the infrastructural changes that have impacted virtually every citizen because of the novel coronavirus. During this high – stakes time, individuals stand to lose several essential components of their lives all at once, such as jobs, loved ones, and political footing. With such core components of lives at risk of being lost, many people look to unconventional sources to better explain why their worlds are collapsing. Rising to fill this role, Qanon has gained particular traction with the political right because of its role in holding President Trump to messiah – like status and demonizing the democratic party. In conjuncture with the disinformation that President Trump routinely releases over Twitter, the Qanon movement has become an incendiary agent in the age of COVID-19 where it give subscribers false reasons to ignore mainstream health information, further spreading the virus.
Under the notion that the propagation of disinformation by the Qanon movement is damaging to health literacy and COVID compliance among populations in the United States most vulnerable to disinformation, our group sorted through months of COVID related q drops in order to track patterns of false and misleading claims. After compiling a collection of the most prominent disinformation, we qualitatively analyzed individual posts for information running counter to science – backed mainstream health organizations.
Click the link below to access our coded q drops.