As someone who has been deeply involved in the Internet, both personally and professionally since its commercial inception, I watched the 6-Part QAnon Series on HBO, “Into the Storm,” with a sense of “insider info” that many do not share. I did so, because the series was supposed to uncover the answer to the question, “Who is Q?”
However, after watching it, and seeing the historic changes in the way the Internet is used to proliferate misinformation, create division, and foment violence, the real question for me changed.
It’s no longer a matter of “Who Is Q,” but far more important, “WHY is Q?”
Watching the HBO series, and knowing more than the average person about how the Internet works, it became fairly obvious to me that the “Real Q” didn’t matter, because at best, it was all just a LARP (Live Action Role Playing), and at worst, one of the most irresponsible and dangerous uses of the Internet since its inception.
One would argue that the “Alt-Channels” of the Internet have long been the hiding/playground for the very worst of human nature, with illegal activities ranging from child/snuff porn, black market sales of drugs and weapons, and almost anything else you can imagine that could possibly happen with well-cloaked anonymity.
But this was different. This “movement,” (and I use that term very loosely), has grown to become one of the most destructive, most insidious, and truly dangerous of any in decades. The numbers are staggering. The results even more so. No longer just a collective of conspiracy nuts who dance around half-truth like Klansmen dance around burning crosses, the influence of QAnon has reached into the tens of millions of users/followers/seekers. It has devastated friends and families, our political system, and has emboldened the worst actors to promote the very worst ideals, in ways that seemed unimaginable even ten years ago.
The simplicity with which this happened should be terrifying to everyone, and should also be one of the most motivating arguments for stricter regulation of the Internet, including the need to tie liability to the providers that host, benefit and profit from the actions of their users.