On Wednesday night, under severe pressure from all sides, President Donald Trump published a video condemning last week’s violence at the Capitol, which was committed by a mob of his own supporters. Four minutes and 20 seconds in, Trump moved his hands briefly.The movement went completely unnoticed — except by QAnon followers, who believe it was Trump’s attempt to signal them, using Morse code.
Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it's causing, and what we should do about it.
Yes, you read that correctly, QAnon is now so desperate for any sign that the “plan” is still in place that it’s willing to believe Trump is using a communication method devised in the 19th century to speak to them.
The claim was first made on the QAnon-focused forum called the Great Awakening, where the poster claimed that Trump’s hand movements at the 4:20 mark in the video represented “dash-dash-dot-dash,” which is the Morse code for the letter Q.Judge for yourselves:Like all QAnon claims, the suggestion is clearly bogus, but that didn’t stop it from being discussed in the numerous Telegram channels that have gained huge numbers of new users since Twitter purged QAnon-linked accounts last week and Parler was forced offline.Over on Telegram and Gab, the far-right social network that has become QAnon’s new home online, users are widely discussing that rather than Morse code, the president is about to send them a message using the Emergency Broadcast System — a way for Trump to get around what his follower see as Big Tech’s censorship.Others still are tracking power outages, predicting a nationwide blackout that will signal the beginning of Trump’s plan to overturn the purported deep state actors whom they believe are plotting against him. QAnon has had a spectacular rise in popularity in the last 12 months, aided by the pandemic, a lack of action by the major social media platforms, and most recently, the tacit backing of Trump. That rise culminated with QAnon supporters playing a central role in last week’s riot on Capitol Hill.But for all that momentum, recent events —Trump’s loss in the election, Congress’ certifying of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and next week’s inauguration — pose a major problem for those heavily invested in the conspiracy that claims Trump will hold onto power.The result is that QAnon supporters have become increasingly adept at the mental gymnastics required to make real-world events fit into a conspiracy theory that has repeatedly proven to be baseless.A number of QAnon supporters have grown tired of the many failed promises — such as Hillary Clinton’s long-predicted arrest, the exposing of the “Deep State,” or Trump’s victory in the election — and have disavowed the movement. But the majority appear to be willing to suspend disbelief for a while longer, at least until Jan. 20, when they believe something will happen to topple Biden’s inauguration.But even then QAnon will persist, pushed by a group of influencers who are a mixture of true believers and grifters who’ve made a lot of money perpetuating the QAnon myth.