At the start of February, the team behind former President Donald Trump’s news social media platform, Truth Social, was scrambling to get things ready for the big launch later that month.
As well as trying to get the apps to work properly, the team wanted to ensure there was no repeat of the fiasco months earlier, when they launched a beta version of the site and someone set up a @realDonaldTrump account and posted a picture of a pig taking a shit.
And so on February 10, over a week before the platform went live, the developers set up Trump’s account.
But that account was not the first one set up on the platform. A full 24-hours earlier, the developers running Truth Social set up an account with a single letter in its name: @Q.
Now, four months later, the platform is overrun with QAnon content, pushed by multiple QAnon influencers who have been given verified profiles on the platform. And now, Trump himself is boosting the QAnon content, resharing dozens of posts containing QAnon imagery, phrases, or memes.
“It reminds me of what used to be on Twitter, in terms of tone and topic, prior to the platform banning QAnon content, with numerous accounts spreading QAnon content,” Alex Kaplan, a researcher at media watchdog Media Matters, told VICE News. “The community has also been excited by Truth Social, seeing it as another place to congregate since mostly being on Telegram and Gab since Twitter’s QAnon crackdown following the January 6 insurrection.”
Kaplan has been closely tracking Trump’s interactions with QAnon content on the platform since the former president began using Truth Social last month. “According to my records, Trump on Truth Social has amplified at least 25 separate QAnon-promoting accounts a total of 43 times,” Kaplan said,
One of the accounts Trump shared last week was so excited about getting a boost from the president that he suggested it was a sign that one of QAnon’s core predictions was about to come true.
“DJT has Rt’d me twice now, and I post memes about hanging traitors regularly…it’s happening,” the account with the handle @J6Patriot wrote, adding a storm emoji.
Trump launched Truth Social in part as a reaction to being kicked off Twitter days after the Capitol riot. He said his site was a “Big Tent” social media platform that “encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology.”
But from the start, the site has been beset by technical glitches, huge waiting lists, and a lack of support on Android. Trump didn’t even bother posting anything on the site until last month.
On Monday, a filing with the SEC revealed that federal securities regulators have expanded their investigation into how Truth Social is being financed. The SEC has requested more documents from a blank check acquisition company called Digital World Acquisition Corp, about communications between it and Trump.
The early establishment of the @Q account strongly suggests that those running the site understood who their core audience might be.
Excitement had been building in the QAnon community over the launch of Trump’s social media platform for some time. When the app finally launched, many in the QAnon community were angry about the long waiting lists–but now those people have secured Truth Social accounts, and today the content they share is among the most engaged on the site.
The @Q account has over 170,000 followers, even though the person or people behind the account admitted it is “just a fake Q having fun trolling the fake news.” Despite this, many QAnon followers continue to assert that this is the same person who posted almost 5,000 messages on 4chan, 8chan, and 8kun.
Some QAnon influencers continue to give credibility to the @Q account on Truth Social by analyzing new posts therel just as they did for the original Q posts. This is done as these influencers are, eager to maintain their influence over a group of people who were cut adrift when the original anonymous poster known as Q stopped posting 18 months ago.
Truth Social did not respond to VICE News’ questions about the prevalence of QAnon content on the platform, but two of the company leaders have interacted with the @Q account in the past.
Kash Patel, who was chief of staff to then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller under Trump, posted a photo to Truth Social in February claiming that he was having a beer with the person behind the @Q account, though the photo didn’t show their face.
“The Q account on Truth is a big deal,” Mike Rains, a researcher who hosts the QAnon-focused podcast “Adventures in HellwQrld,” told VICE News. “[The account] likes to admit he really isn’t Q but lets everyone pretend he is. Kash Patel and Devin Nunes have interacted with the account.” Nunes is a former Republican member of Congress from California who gave up the seat he held for 19 years in order to run the social media company.
While Truth Social has apparently banned accounts for posting about the January 6th Committee hearings, there have been no efforts to clamp down on QAnon conspiracy theories.
“I haven’t seen any attempts on Truth Social to limit QAnon content,” Kaplan said. “On the contrary, the platform seems to have legitimized the QAnon community, verifying multiple QAnon influencers.”
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