Supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory are now analyzing tweets from Tesla CEO Elon Musk in an apparent effort to find secret messages.
After Musk announced on Monday his intentions to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, users on the platform responded with a wide range of reactions.
Right-wing users, who believe that Musk will usher in a golden era of “free speech,” largely celebrated the news. Many left-wing users, however, argued that the planned acquisition would lead to an increase in misinformation and other issues.
The partisan concerns became even more visible after left-wing Twitter users appeared to flee the platform, causing a noticeable drop in followers for prominent liberal accounts. Right-wing users appeared to do the opposite, boosting the follower accounts of high-profile conservatives by signing up for Twitter en masse.
But supporters of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that claims a clandestine team of government insiders was secretly dropping clues on a message board for trolls regarding former President Donald Trump’s battle against an international cabal of child-eating pedophiles, are now viewing Musk’s tweets in a new light.
Much like when conspiracy theorists spent countless hours attempting to decode the vague ramblings of “Q,” believed by many to be former 8chan administrator Ron Watkins, QAnon followers are now giving the same treatment to Musk’s remarks.
The fiasco picked up speed on Tuesday after Musk tweeted about “Truth Social,” the questionable social media platform founded by Trump.
In a follow-up tweet, Musk joked that Truth Social should be referred to as “Trumpet” instead.
While most found the tweets to be largely mundane, QAnon supporters across the web erupted into a frenzy.
Over on Truth Social, a prominent conspiracy theorist known as JuliansRum, who was suspended by Twitter in 2020 for spreading misinformation, claimed that the timing of Musk’s tweets was a sign.
Specifically, the conspiracy theorist noted that the last two tweets in Musk’s thread regarding Truth Social had been shared 17 minutes apart. Given that the letter Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet, QAnon believers argued that Musk was giving a secret nod to the conspiracy movement.
As further noted by Katie McCarthy, associate investigative researcher for the ADL Center on Extremism, other prominent QAnon gurus jumped into the fray as well.
Over on Telegram, the user known as “The Patriot Voice” similarly zeroed in on the number 17. An account on Truth Social known as “Pepe Lives Matter” argued that Musk had left the side of evil and joined the “white hats,” a term used by QAnon supporters for those in alliance with Trump.
As noted by VICE News’ David Gilbert this week, QAnon supporters had previously claimed that Musk was a worshipper of Satan and frequently pointed to a photograph of him with convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell (despite the fact that Trump was also pictured with Maxwell).
But with the belief that Musk could soon reinstate the banned Twitter accounts of QAnon’s biggest leaders, even though the purchase has yet to be finalized, many have decided to change their tune.
Given the uncertainty of the deal’s future, as well as the unlikelihood that Musk will be able to please the most far-right users, QAnon supporters may very well be faced with the same failed predictions that they have seen since the conspiracy theory began in 2017.