A Week In Q-Land

(CW: Antisemitism)

A lot has been made about the current meteoric rise of Parler as a safe space for the fringe (and not so fringe) right. Watching people who have been suspended from Twitter have a protracted meltdown is both fascinating and extremely concerning.

A picture of a post on Parler by account @StormIsUponUs with username President Elect Joe M. 

The post reads 'There's 100% chance Biden loses the 2020 election. If I'm wrong, I'll livestream my cult-deprogramming therapy.'

The post has 352 comment replies, 1004 shares, and 4683 upvotes.
I’m tempted to make an account just to ask about this

But what about the really safe spaces? Places like Parler and Voat certainly won’t censor Q accounts, but I can still get on there and point out logical fallacies or just spam this blog at them. No, I spent Thanksgiving week going into WeWake, one of the many attempts at making a Q-themed social media platform, to see what I would learn.

It was Thanksgiving week so I spent no more than 30 minutes a day on the platform. I didn’t go to dig for dirt, I just decided to see what a casual user would see.

Monday

Turns out you need to get approved for an account so I had to wait around for that. Once I got approved, the website was super pleasant to look at, and I immediately received a warm welcome from my new friends.

Thad Williams appears to be the owner and creator of the website. I have no idea if that’s a real name or not but he’s also extremely sweet and supportive. If I were a QAnon supporter fleeing Twitter this would be an amazing find.

I did find a, um…small issue with the UK Patriots group, that I assume was either made by an American or a troll.

A picture of the header for WeWake group 'UK Patriots'. The banner image has a female BBC presenter speaking to camera, as two men holding an Irish flag with the letter Q on it stand in the background. The profile picture is the flag of the United Kingdom
Do you want hundreds of years of sectarian violence? Because that’s how you get hundreds of years of sectarian violence.

The only red flag that hit on Monday was user Lone Wolf For Trump. Whether they are aware or not (and I suspect they are aware) that term was coined by white supremacist Louis Beam and is an apt descriptor for numerous acts of terrorism perpetrated by both white nationalists and ISIS.

Lone Wolf For Trump wants to set up CHAZ, but Q, in a nice remote area, which brings me to my Monday take-away:

TIL: People in CHAZ are no Longer American Citizens and Their Votes Don’t Count

A comment exchange by two users on WeWake.

User JUNE_RIO28: They did do that, which meant that every person who defected renounced their US citizenship, and therefore their vote was null and void.

User LoneWolfForTrump: JUNE_RIO28 It gets even better, even though that ummm settlement is inside the borders of the US, you will need a passport and a visa to enter their land, they do have some kind of tourism and they do allow visitors but you have to make arrangements for lmao...
I mean, no, just…what? No.

Tuesday

Love bombing is a real thing. If my head wasn’t swimming with stories of people losing their loved ones to this cult I would be feeling extremely bad about this experiment. Everyone is super friendly towards this anonymous mute who joined their platform.

Don’t take my word for it, just ask this person who received a lot of emotional support from fellow ‘patriots’.

A post from the website WeWake with the username and picture covered in a black box.

Post reads: "I'm feeling more stress and anxiety that [sic] in previous years. Especially with holidays coming up.
With y'all i feel I've discovered a whole new family of relatives I didn't know I had.
Most of my family is thousands of miles away and they rarely remember me at holidays or birthdays. 
My son is close and I get to see my grandkids some bit [sic] never holiday sinners [sic]. His wife's family have banished me from the family gatherings over an untruth. Rather than reveal the actual truth to my son n daughter I just let it go. No reason to spoil their family unity too. It's very sad on Thanksgiving, Christmas n [sic] easter but now I have y'all!

Thank you for being my family."

The post has two likes.
This is sad.

Took a little poke around the wider website before my allotted time was up. The platform is funded by PayPal and Bitcoin, not many surprises there. There’s also a Discord set up perfectly for evading bans, and a merchandise section.

PSA: Teespring has hard-coded their website to not accept QAnon search terms, but is happy to profit off of Q

I found a relatively innocuous looking but most definitely Q-themed storefront via WeWake and asked Teespring about it. I was told they supported free speech. When I asked if their dedication to free speech included profiteering off of a dangerous cult they dodged the issue. (As of the 5th of December I await an actual answer from them.)

For now I’m going to pretend a developer has gone rogue and coded in the blacklisted search terms and hats off to that person!

But also…

TIL: The British Army are Setting Up Quarantine Tents and This is Scary

You may think that over 150 people live on a training camp and therefore it’s very smart to have adequate facilities to keep your army operational during a pandemic. You would be wrong. These are obviously for civilians for some reason not adequately explained.


Wednesday

There’s a disconnect you see with Q followers where they insist that they’ve done a lot of research, yet when you press them on it, they’ve ‘read something on the internet’. But here’s the thing, reading about the latest Q theories is work. It’s a nebulous ever-shifting miasma of half-baked ideas trying to explain everything happening in the world. It isn’t valuable work, you’re not learning anything real or of use, but it is a lot of effort to keep up.

There’s also the internal peer-pressure to keep up. I found ‘Waking Up Your Neighbours’, a group dedicated to, well, brainwashing your neighbours. In it, someone suggested that you could read ‘The Storm – v 1.Q’ in a day, and that that counted as research. ‘The Storm’ is 290 pages of dense text that makes wild claims which require a large amount of time to thoroughly debunk every two sentences. You cannot read that and take it all in in one day. That is absurd.

That’s why I wrote a post to try and help Q followers break the cycle of constant reading/pressure, please use it if it might help someone you know.

Other than that, I joined the Discord server to see what was up.

Screenshot from a Discord channel. Channel name is 'General'. Channel description is 'Open chat for WeWake patriots and interested guests.'

The username is 'Don Qoyote'. Message is:
Scott rocks.
Anyone got the info on the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting victims handy? I remember one was a pedo who had done time, redpilling someone right now
It got worse from here

It was interesting to see that disaffected patriots were treated with the sort of scorn I’d assume was reserved for skeptics. Like any other cult, leaving seems to be a one-way ticket to being ostracized by this seemingly wholesome group.

TIL: Rudy Guliani Was Totally Winning in Pennsylvania

Rudy Guliani totally won in Pennsylvania and also the 2020 Presidential Results there are no longer valid. In so far as I am aware, this is not true. (Archive)

Thursday

If I were a professional I would spend more time on turkey day looking at WeWake but I am not and so I did not.

TIL: The Entire British Cabinet Have Been Put Under House Arrest

The theory says: COVID isn’t real. The lockdowns etc. have killed millions. Therefore the British government (for some reason?) are guilty of crimes against humanity and have been arrested. I don’t know who would have issued that arrest warrant. It doesn’t say. Very confusing.

Friday

If you were a Q-positive casual user of this website, you would be forgiven at this point for thinking everything is swell. Everyone is lovely unless you leave the cult, and it’s just stopping kids being kidnapped or whatever. What’s the harm?

Don’t be fooled. It took until Friday for me to find a proper mask-off post, but this stuff is always under the surface.

I also noticed, in a pattern you’ll see a lot in these spaces, that funding went from 33% to 75% of the total in one day. I assume that had something to do with the surge in Bitcoin value, but it remains interesting to see that large one-off payments really do make these spaces function.

TIL: There Are So Many Gates…

There wasn’t anything particularly explosive going on the day we were all collectively having a food hangover but this post just got me. Can we please stop saying X-Gate? It’s stupid.

A post on WeWake which is a uote from a Lin Wood Tweet. 

The tweet reads:

As we approach Thanksgiving 20/20, 80+M Patriots waiting to give thanks for indictments opening these gates:

1.EpsteinPedaGate
2.DurhamRussiaGate
3.WeinerLapTopGate
4.HunterLapTopGate
5.HillaryGate
6.CommunityElectionTheftGate

REVEAL EVERY LIE
REVEAL EVERY CRIME
LOCK ALL UP!
Stop trying to make CommunistElectionTheftGate happen. It’s not going to happen.

Saturday

Explosive times in Q-land. There had been earlier “reports” that a server was seized by American soldiers in Frankfurt, Germany. That server supposedly had all the incriminating evidence against the Deep State. QAnon is big in Germany, so I understand the connection, but it is odd that nobody live tweeted ‘Holy shit Americans are raiding buildings in our country, is this an act of war?” Especially because:

TIL: There Was A Firefight In Frankfurt

It took a while for this to develop, and frankly it’s disgusting. There was a firefight, you see, when American forces were heroically duking it out in the streets of Frankfurt. Only, they’re using the real deaths of real people to prop this up.

Michael Goodboe, CIA agent, died in Somalia from injuries sustained from an IED.

Capt. Seth Vernon Vandekamp, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gearld Garza, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, and Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman died in a helicopter crash in Egypt while on a peacekeeping mission. Sgt. Sherman was only 23 years old.

Those men have families who love them. They were real people, doing real jobs, who really died. They should not be fodder for conspiracists longing for a day of the rope.

Sunday

My week in Q-land is coming to an end. On Sunday the Gateway Pundit wanted me to know that the Republicans in Georgia love Joe Biden actually. They’re making sure the runoff is rigged actually. All hope for electioneering is lost.

That’s frightening and doesn’t portend great things in Georgia, but I thought it best to finish up allowing the Q people to explain, in their own words, why they keep coming back. What keeps them in their own fantasy-land online?

A pinned post on the website WeWake by Thad Williams.

Post reads:
What keeps you coming back to WeWake every day/week?

The post has one like.

Comments:
KBPatriot: I feel safe here. I feel like I am getting the truth here. This is where I come for comfort, knowing that I am surrounded with others awake like me. It's a soft warm comfy blanket in the middle of winter. And I love green frogs...
6 people like this comment
Comment reply from Tessa: KBPatriot, glad to see you feel safe. That's a huge goal here, green frogs are pretty rad (two emojis of green frogs)

Comments:
3caratlady: Always new information. I'm stoked by the level of intelligence, hard work of so many, and broadening my horizon
5 people like this comment 

oneromaniac: A common universal unprecedented effort to uncover the truth.
5 people like this comment

VanFarnel: I can make a biblical 
reference without somebody calling my God a 'tyrant of a god who demands worship'.
5 people like this comment
Comment reply: VanFarnel right?? Hallelujah!
1 person likes this comment reply
How comforting it must be to have all the answers. Happy turkey week folks.

Reddit – Still Evil

There’s been a lot of weird revisionist history around Reddit recently. The Atlantic wrote a piece praising them for not currently being a hotbed of QAnon conspiracies, completely overlooking the fact that Reddit helped spread it in the first place. In fact, Reddit was so instrumental in the early spread of QAnon that they got a shoutout in a Q drop.

They praise their swift action on /r/Pizzagate, but in the same post remark on how /r/TheGreatAwakening had 70,000 members. If you want to know how bad it got before Reddit deigned to step in, read this incredibly detailed post about just one harassment campaign organised by Q acolytes.

But all that is in the past. There’s been a big push to make the Anti-Evil Operations team more visible. Has that made a difference? Not really.

Reddit – Still Pushing Conspiracies

I wanted to make a new Reddit account recently. I used an email address from a domain that I owned, and knew had no other user accounts (BurnYourFeelings.com)

Going through on-boarding, here were the first suggestions I got.

Image of Reddit page which is recommending communities to new users. The two relevant ones are 'r/conspiracy_commons' and 'r/conspiracytheories'
Why, Reddit? Why do you do this?

I asked someone else I knew to create an account on a domain I had a level of control over. Here’s what came up:

Image of Reddit page which is recommending communities to new users. The two relevant one is 'r/conspiracytheories'
They’re serious about pushing this apparently….

A complete throwaway with a fake email address does produce completely generic results, removing the ‘Just For You’ section entirely, so this has to be personalized somehow. A quick glance at this blog shows you that I’m no stranger to browsing conspiracy boards. UBlockOrigin doesn’t block every cookie. So that’s it. That’s the solution, right? No harm, no foul. Just serving up relevant content.

What Are They Recommending?

Reddit has no way of knowing why I’m browsing conspiracy boards. The algorithm might be watching me, but it isn’t watching that closely. Much like Facebook, Reddit is now creating a tailored road-map to ‘pill’ me.

Here’s a selection of posts from /r/conspiracy_commons the day I signed up (please note that I took my sweet time writing this so this first bunch are old)

A Q/COVID-denalist grifter!

A reddit post with the title 'Fight with us people of the UK!!'
You too can get coaching on…something. Only £20 p/h!

A QAnon/Hollow-Earth true believer!

A Reddit post with the title 'What did Seth MacFarlane mean by this? A character dressed as Steven Spielberg molesting an Asian boy while singing The Goonies theme. It's probably nothing'
Seth MacFarlane likes to make jokes in poor taste. That is the explanation.

Racist memes from user Murder_All_Marxists, who deleted their own account. Reddit was apparently fine with the username.

A Reddit post with the title 'Slavery is still active in Africa'
This isn’t even a conspiracy.

In defense of the folks at /r/conspiracy_commons, today’s selection (15th October) was less actively horrendous, but number five on ‘Hot’ was still QAnon propaganda.

A reddit post with the title 'Evidence against Biden, Obama and Clinton goes Public! Deep State Scrambles as MORE EVIDENCE Revealed!
This is exhausting.

Just to re-emphasize. This is content that Reddit was actively recommending to me as a new user. I can’t find statistics on how many new accounts there are a day, but there are apparently 430 million active users right now. How many people are being recommended similar content??

Why Does It Matter?

If you hang around places like /r/QAnonCasualties you can get a real sense of what happens in the lives of people taken in by these posts. On the day I registered, I came across this incredibly telling and sad post.

A Reddit post with the title 'Does anyone here feel the constant sadness and hollowness once you are not distracted?'
Apparently this post was deleted. I’m not shocked.

There’s a human cost to algorithms. The anti-COVID propaganda seen here has an actual body-count. Democracies are being eroded by QAnon and Deep State content that pushed people into an alternative reality. And on the micro-level, divorce proceedings are being started, people are losing their kids, parents are alienated from their children.

Reddit can do better.