Researchers claim to have identified prominent social media influencer in QAnon conspiracy

·2 min read
Trump supporters fly a US flag with a symbol denoting QAnon as they gather outside the US Capitol on 6 January (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trump supporters fly a US flag with a symbol denoting QAnon as they gather outside the US Capitol on 6 January (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A prominent voice in the QAnon conspiracy movement may have been unmasked by intelligence researchers.

Research firm Logically published a report naming the high profile QAnon user going by the Twiter handle “qthewakeup” as Jeremy “JJ” Sicotte, a documentary filmmaker.

The “qthewakeup” account was ultimately banned from Twitter, but not before racking up more than 140,000 followers and spreading misinformation that pushed lies about the coronavirus and the Wayfair furniture company.

Logically reached out to Mr Sicotte, who denied having anything to do with the account.

Regarding Wayfair, the qthewakeup account along with numerous other QAnon believers began spreading baseless claims that the furniture company was engaged in child human sex trafficking, and that customers with the knowledge of how the system works could order children through their catalog.

The story was obviously nonsense, but it still resulted in numerous Wayfair employees being harassed and in some cases threatened by QAnon believers.

Logically hopes that by unveiling the person behind the account, it will prevent the user from trying to push any other extreme and baseless theories.

Nick Backovic, the lead investigator at Logically, told The Hill there is “value in taking away that anonymity, especially when its being weaponised to push harmful information”.

“In some cases [anonymity] means they straight-up can lie about their identity,” he said. “In other cases, because they are shielded from accountability … it allows them to post stuff that is more daring, more extremist and that makes the harmful content more dangerous.”

The researchers also found information linking the account to another influential conspiracy theorist and filmmaker, Jordan Sather.

Mr Sather claimed that he knew the individual who ran the qthewakeup account, identifying them as male and as someone who helped him film his 2018 conspiracy-laden documentary “Above Majestic”.

Logically spoke with Mr Sather, who claimed that he made the “qthewakeup” account, and Mr Sciotte claimed that Mr Sather used his information to register the account.

However, the researchers found that the account was originally created in 2009, its handle, “jfromjupiter”, was a reference to Mr Sciotte's band.

Mr Sather's explanation also does not explain the account's earliest activity, nor does it explain comments Mr Sather has made claiming he will be starting a new podcast with a “friend” who runs the qthewakeup Twitter handle.

Logically's previous investigations into QAnon believers has resulted in entire websites being shuttered.

In one case, Logically revealed the identity of the person who ran the website QMap, which compiled the “Q drops” in a central location and drew a large number of visitors.

After being revealed, the owner of the site took it down.

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