comScore Did “Q” Really “Out Himself?” We Investigate. | The Mary Sue

Did “Q” Really “Out Himself?” We Investigate.

Trump supporter with a giant Q-shaped sign hanging around his neck looks sad and tired.

The QAnon conspiracy has turned American politics into something, shockingly, even weirder and scarier than many of us ever dreamed. The idea that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats are trafficking children is absurd, but thousands, maybe even millions of people, believe that thanks in part to the “drops” of information (and I use that term loosely) from the shadowy figure known as “Q.” Now headlines blare that Q has finally outed himself in the dumbest way possible, but is that true?

The man who would be Q is a guy by the name of Ron Watkins. Ron is the son of Jim Watkins, the owner of the imageboard 8chan. They live in the Philipines and have for years. Ron is the administrator of 8kun, the successor to 8chan. Both men have been intimately involved in the spread of QAnon content on boards like 4Chan, 8chan, and 8kun, so much so that for a while the main theory for the identity of Q was one or both of the Watkinses.  For instance, in September of last year, the two men were the subject of an ABC news story titled “The Men Behind QAnon.”

And it makes sense these men were or knew who Q was. As the heads of 8Chan and 8Kun, they were the only people who could have actually communicated with “Q” and used the admin tools to determine Q’s identity. And the fact that Q only posted his info—which was sold as vital to America, nay the fate of the world—on a forum known for hate speech, illegal porn, and being pretty much the worst of the internet, means Q was linked to 8chan and 8kun. And thus to the Watkinses. And why wouldn’t they encourage this? It drove massive traffic to their terrible sites.

Ron Watkins spent months talking with journalist and documentarian Cullen Holden as part of the HBO documentary Q: Into the Storm, sharing his insights into the movement and Q. And at the very end, he seems to out himself accidentally as Q. This led to headlines such as Mashable’s perfect “Ron Watkins seems to admit he’s Q, in the dumbest possible ending to QAnon.” The Washington Post writes, “A QAnon revelation suggests the truth of Q’s identity was right there all along.”

Here’s the moment, shared in a tweet that’s gone viral.

Now, this isn’t a full admission and Watkins told followers on the platform Telegram that he’s not Q (not that we would believe the guy who admits to spreading election misinformation). And there’s a caveat. The Watkinses didn’t get directly involved in spreading QAnon stuff until around 2018, when the theory began to gain steam and spread outside of 8chan and its like. But Q started posting in 2017, so it seems that if Ron (and Jim) Watkins took over as Q, it was in order to seize on the popularity and growing industry behind the movement and to further manipulate people.

So the answer to “do we know who Q is?” is … probably. At least the current incarnation. But the bigger and sadder point is … it probably doesn’t matter. Q hasn’t posted since Trump lost the election and nothing Q claimed would happen with “the storm” and the mass arrests of Democrat satanist pedophiles actually took place. The Q conspiracy has been proven wrong again and again but the people who believe it don’t care.

And why would they? The very idea of QAnon is completely absurd but so was the Satanic Panic and that never really went away, just evolved into new forms like QAnon. Some humans are always going to believe in wild theories like this because they explain an unexplainable world, and that’s far scarier than a professional internet troll accidentally admitting he’s the one that fed their mass delusion.

(via: Vice, Image: Rick Loomis/Getty Images)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.