QAnon conspiracy spreads like wildfire
As wildfires burned through the west coast states, officials in Oregon are requesting that people only post information that comes from trusted sources to the public. 911 dispatchers have been flooded with calls asking whether the QAnon conspiracy theory about Antifa members starting the wildfires were true. Officials have already stated that this was not true but calls continue to be made asking about this conspiracy theory.
What is QAnon?
QAnon and its followers promote the conspiracy theory that there is a “deep state” in the US government that is being controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. The theory also states that the deep state is largely run by Democratic politicians and liberal celebrities and that Trump is trying to take them down.
How it started
This conspiracy began when “Q” uploaded a post on 8Kun, a successor of the messaging board 8chan, where people often post hateful content. 8Kun has been linked to three different disasters including the shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people. The post by “Q” included a link to a tweet from former US Senate candidate Paul Joseph Romero Jr. claiming that the Douglas County Sheriff’s office had six Antifa “arsonists” in custody. In the post, “Q” also implied that the wildfires were linked to “highly coordinated … domestic terrorism.”
Several sheriff offices condemn the theory
The Douglas County Sheriff’s office posted a warning on Facebook that said, “Rumors spread just like wildfires.” It added that police staff had been “overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires.”
The Jackson County Sheriff’s office also uploaded a post to Facebook telling people not to spread fake news. The post said, “We are inundated with questions about things that are FAKE stories. One example is a story circulating that varies about what group is involved as to setting fires and arrests being made.” The sheriff’s office continued, “THIS IS NOT TRUE!”
In response to a fake Facebook post from the Medford police department with a screenshot of a man’s picture claiming that five people were arrested in connection with arson. The Medford police wrote, “We did not arrest this person for arson, nor anyone affiliated with Antifa or ‘Proud Boys’ as we’ve heard throughout the day. Also, no confirmed gatherings of Antifa which has also been reported.” The Proud Boys are known as a far-right group. The department had requested the posts to be taken down from several accounts as they continue to receive calls about it.
The FBI investigates
Even the FBI spoke about this theory after conducting an investigation. The FBI said, “reports that extremists are setting wildfires in Oregon are untrue.” The FBI’s Portland field office also tweeted, “With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports [of extremists setting wildfires] and found them untrue.” The tweet continued, “Conspiracy theory and misinformation take valuable resources away from local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.” The FBI have labeled QAnon and its followers as a potential domestic terrorist threat.