Elon Musk speaks at SpaceX's Starbase facility in South Texas on February 10, 2022. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images)
On Monday night, Elon Musk tweeted an explicit encouragement to his 121 million followers to look into the QAnon conspiracy movement. “Follow [rabbit emoji],” Musk tweeted. Seemingly innocuous, “follow the white rabbit” is a line taken from Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that has since made multiple appearances in pop culture, most notably in the original Matrix film.
But since 2018, the saying has become synonymous with QAnon and when pushers of the conspiracy urge others to look into the movement. The term “white rabbits” was mentioned on three different occasions in Q drops, twice in 2018 and once in 2019. This gave the term even more importance to the community, which believes Trump is waging a secret war against the deep state.Within minutes of Musk’s tweet, QAnon communities on message boards, Telegram channels, on Trump’s Truth Social platform, and on Twitter itself, lit up with excitement, believing that the world’s richest man was sending them a direct message. While Musk has dismissed the claims that he is promoting QAnon, experts worry that the explicit signals he is giving the QAnon community by referencing the white rabbit will embolden them even further, and possibly cause violence. And over the last few weeks, Musk hasn’t done much to dissuade QAnon believers: Twitter has reinstated a host of major QAnon accounts onto the platform.
“[Musk] is on pace to start posting Q drops to millions of normies and there's nothing anyone can do to stop him,” one QAnon influencer wrote on Telegram.
“Here we gooooooo” a QAnon account with over 80,000 followers on Truth Social wrote above a screenshot of Musk’s tweet.Much of the QAnon community believed that the recent restoration of Trump’s Twitter account would see him tweet about the “storm” that QAnon followers have been waiting five years to happen, a moment when all of their enemies, they claim, would apparently be arrested and executed. However, given Musk’s recent posts, some in the community are now predicting that Musk, and not Trump, will be the messenger to bring about the “storm.”
“QAnon adherents essentially believe this phrase is the green light to begin their violent takeover of America,” Nick Martin, a reporter who tracks extremists, tweeted. “Elon Musk is now explicitly encouraging his 120 million followers to start following QAnon,” Caroline Orr Bueno, a behavioral scientist, tweeted. “Put differently, Elon Musk is encouraging 120 million followers to join a domestic terrorism movement.” As well as welcoming back QAnon accounts and content, Musk has hinted that he is waging a secret war against pedophiles on the platform, a narrative that resonates strongly with QAnon followers who believe that elites, such as Democrats and Silicon Valley CEOs, are running a global child sex trafficking ring.QAnon has been dismissed by many as a online-only conspiracy, but in recent years that claim has been thoroughly debunked due to multiple murders, kidnappings and violent plots being carried out in the name of QAnon.Just this week, authorities in Germany unmasked a violent far-right plot to overthrow the German government involving former lawmakers and members of the security forces that was influenced by QAnon. Musk has used his profile as Twitter CEO to promote conspiracies and engage with far-right personalities from the moment he took control of the platform. Most recently, he used his platform to insinuate that Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety was a pedophile, an accusation that led to Roth being labeled a groomer by right-wing media. According to CNN, Roth was forced to flee his home as a result of threats against him.On Monday, Musk dissolved Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council all together. The group was formed in 2016 and made up of more than 100 civil and human rights organizations which worked with the company to make it a safer place for users.“Today’s decision to dissolve the Trust and Safety Council is cause for grave concern, particularly as it is coupled with increasingly hostile statements by Twitter owner Elon Musk about journalists and the media,” Jodie Ginsberg, president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a longstanding member of the council, said in a statement emailed to VICE News.