Mapping the messenger: Exploring the disinformation of QAnon


  • Darren Linvill Clemson University
  • Matthew Chambers Clemson University
  • Jennifer Duck Belmont University
  • Steven Sheffield Clemson University



QAnon, Disinformation, Message Boards, Conspiracy Theory, Agenda Building


We analyzed message board content originating with the online persona “Q,” leader of the right-wing conspiracy community known as QAnon. We qualitatively placed all of Q’s messages into one of five qualitatively derived categories: allusion to hidden knowledge, undermining institutions and individuals, inspirational, administration and security, and call to action. Further analysis of how these categories are used by Q over time illustrates how the messaging evolved. Specifically, later Q messaging focused less on hidden knowledge and conspiratorial thinking and more on politics relative to earlier messaging. We also note what Q does not include in messages: very few direct calls to action are made to the QAnon community and no specific, direct calls for violent action. Implications and future directions of research are discussed.

Author Biographies

Darren Linvill, Clemson University

Associate Professor and Lead Researcher in the Watt Family Innovation Center Media Forensics Hub at Clemson University

Matthew Chambers, Clemson University

Executive Director of Visual Analytics, Clemson University Computing and Information Technology

Jennifer Duck, Belmont University

Instructor of Journalism/Cinema, Television, & Media, Belmont University

Steven Sheffield, Clemson University

Graduate Research Assistant, Clemson University Media Forensics Hub




How to Cite

Linvill, D., Chambers, M., Duck, J., & Sheffield, S. (2021). Mapping the messenger: Exploring the disinformation of QAnon. First Monday, 26(12).