Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One in Washington, DC on September 12, 2019(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social has become such a hive of QAnon activity that even advertisers are now trying to take advantage.A company called Patriot Survival placed an ad on the platform this week. First flagged on Twitter by journalist Liz Elkind, it advertises a solar-powered “indestructible” radio and torch while using the well-known QAnon trope of a coming storm as a way to get the platform’s users to make a purchase. The company also features a Q in its logo.
After clicking on the ad, the product site is even more explicitly QAnon-infused.“The deep state are using the global warming hoax to build the narrative for the oncoming blackouts,” the website claims. “We can see this happening in California already. The cabal are running out of chess moves, and when the flood of information begins, they will cut the power to stop the spread of information.”
The “deep state,” “cabal,” and a prolonged blackout are all well-known QAnon myths. And if that weren’t enough, the website’s URL includes the number 17, a reference to the fact that Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet.The radio and torch combo is widely available on sites like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, but in the Truth Social ad, it seems to be positioned as an essential tool for any self-respecting QAnon believer. The site is selling the device for $32.99 “with free delivery for all patriots”, and the company claims it’s a significant discount from the previous price of $59.99. However, a quick search on Alibaba reveals that the item can be bought for as little as $7.At the bottom of the site, the company selling the radio claims that all profits from the sale of the radio ”will be invested into Digital World Acquisition Company,” which is the special-purpose acquisition company aiming to take Truth Social’s parent company— Trump Media and Technology Group—public.The appearance of ads clearly designed to appeal to a QAnon audience on Truth Social should come as no surprise.
From the very beginning, the platform was set up to accommodate QAnon believers with a fake @q account created even before Trump’s own account was set up. Major QAnon influencers were also given verified accounts on the platform.But it’s the former president himself who has done more than anyone to promote QAnon conspiracies on the site. Trump has shared over 130 posts from QAnon accounts. Many of them were explicit endorsements of QAnon—including a picture of Trump wearing a Q lapel pin.On Monday, Trump continued his efforts to promote the conspiracy theory by tagging an explicitly QAnon account, which recently shared an image of a burning Q on top of the American flag.
In August, Truth Social became the first publisher to join the new ad platform created by the Canadian alternative video-sharing site Rumble, allowing Trump’s company to sell ads while avoiding the Big Tech platforms.Some of the ads on the platform have been ridiculous, including one shilling a one-dollar bill with Melania Trump’s face on it.
But the radio ad is more evidence that QAnon is a core part of Truth Social’s business model, which is something that was built into the platform from the beginning. “We try to incorporate [QAnon] into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences,” Kash Patel, who has served on Truth Social's board, said in June. The promotion of QAnon by Trump and Truth Social has coincided with an uptick in QAnon-linked violence in recent weeks. Last month, an armed man dressed as a clown, who had posted QAnon videos on Facebook, entered a Dairy Queen and threatened to “kill all Democrats.” Days earlier, a QAnon believer in Michigan shot and killed his wife.