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Abstract

During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump amassed a following of extremists. After Trump settled into his presidency, subsets of his original following emerged. One group included a committed following of an individual known by the code name “Q.” Q claimed to be a top-clearance military official who would slowly reveal the “truth” about the political “deep state.” Q communicated directly to their followers through “leaks,” or posts, on the anonymous message boards of 4chan, 8chan, and 8kun. This paper examines the content of these leaks and discusses how the leaks influenced the discourse of QAnon followers. This discourse analysis allows for an in-depth investigation of Q’s leaks surrounding the subjects of bolstering anti-elitism, discrediting the establishment, and defining their followers’ identity through a sense of threat and group-marginalization.

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