John McAfee was a world-class troll throughout his life, and even his death, in a Spanish prison on Wednesday, didn’t stop him from trolling.
The 75-year-old former antivirus pioneer died in his cell, reportedly by suicide, after a Spanish court ruled in favor of his extradition to the U.S. to face tax fraud charges. Security personnel tried to revive him, but the facility’s medical team finally certified his death, a statement from the regional Catalan government said.
But hours after Spanish media reported the news of McAfee’s death, a new post appeared on the cryptocurrency promoter’s verified Instagram account, displaying nothing but a large Q.
McAfee’s Instagram account has now been taken offline, but before Wednesday, the antivirus pioneer had not posted since October 2020, when he was jailed. Before, he hadn’t updated his account since November 2019.
It is unclear if the post was a scheduled one created by McAfee himself, or if a member of his entourage was tasked with posting it. Either way, the QAnon community ran with it.
Within minutes of the post being shared on Instagram, QAnon channels were on fire with dozens of outrageous and baseless conspiracies, springing fully-formed onto Gab, Telegram, and other QAnon-focused message boards.
According to QAnon, McAfee was assassinated by the deep state, or is still alive, or may have even been the anonymous poster known as Q. One poster even claimed he was “snatched by Q,” because he wrote the encryption that protected the Dominion voting machines at the center of the election fraud conspiracy promoted by QAnon.
Those spreading conspiracies about McAfee’s death also pointed to social media posts the 75-year-old made in recent years, claiming he would never take his own life.
McAfee has never really been a major figure for the QAnon community, even though his anti-government and anti-tax stances meant he shared a similar worldview with many QAnon followers.
But within minutes of the Instagram post on Wednesday, QAnon channels lit up with followers claiming that McAfee had become the latest victim of the deep state, a shadowy group that QAnon believes is protecting a group of Democratic and Hollywood elites who are running a global child sex-trafficking ring.
Many compared his death to that of Jeffrey Epstein, who also died by suicide while in jail awaiting trial.
But for all the attention QAnon followers are now paying to McAfee, all the evidence suggests that the 75-year-old was simply ensuring that even in death, he would still be able to continue trolling, with what one QAnon expert called a “posthumous shitpost.”
Throughout his public life, McAfee has been a troll. Back in the early 1990s, when he created the antivirus software that bore his name, McAfee scared millions of computer owners about the threat from a piece of malware called Michaelangelo, which turned out to be a dud.
Then there was the time, in 2013, when he posted a video entitled “How to Uninstall McAfee Antivirus” which opens with him lighting a cigarette with a flaming $100 bill and goes on to show him snorting bath salts while surrounded by sex workers.
And the time, in 2018, when he repeatedly claimed to have “fucked” a whale.
And the time he said he would “eat [his] own dick” if the value of one bitcoin didn’t reach $1 million by the end 2020—a bet he backed out of pretty quickly.
Even when he talked about QAnon, McAfee trolled the conspiracy cult’s true believers. Back in 2018, when the conspiracy theory was just beginning to gain traction, he joked that “if ‘Q’ will identify themselves, I will offer them the running mate position for my presidential campaign. If you're hearing this ‘Q’, then please give this thoughtful consideration.”
He continued to mock QAnon throughout 2020.
While McAfee attempted to maintain the pretence that everything he was saying was true, at times the mask slipped to reveal his true nature. In February 2020 he offered this advice to his 1.1 million Twitter followers:
“You want to troll? Do it on your page. Like I do on mine. That's what your page is for.”