Anonymous vs. QAnon: Hackers Pledge to Take Down Pro-Trump Conspiracy

The hacking collective Anonymous has issued a threat against individuals tied to the political conspiracy QAnon, pledging to sabotage its operation and expose its followers.

The new campaign—using hashtags #OpQ and #OpQAnon—was given a signal boost on Sunday by the Twitter profile @YourAnonNews, which is widely believed to be one of the more reliable sources of information on the cyberactivist group. Its account has 1.6 million followers.

"We have plans," Anonymous stated. "We will not sit idly by while you take advantage of the misinformed and poorly educated. In our collective we all have our differences and internal drama but we do have one thing in common; none of us are happy with your bullsh*t."

QAnon is a conspiracy theory that sprang from the murkier corners of the web, including 4Chan and 8Chan. Also known as "The Storm," it broadly suggests that President Donald Trump is working behind the scenes to expose "deep state" elites and child traffickers in the upper echelon of the American government. It has received support from celebrity Republican Roseanne Barr.

hacker group Anonymous
A person claiming to speak for activist hacker group Anonymous is seen issuing a warning through a video. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Signs and T-shirts with the Q logo have become a staple at Trump's political rallies. Advocates of the conspiracy—and there are believers—claim the source of the information is well placed inside the U.S. establishment. Updates, initially posted on 4Chan in October 2017, typically contain cryptic messages. To some, they prove Trump is in control. To others, they're nonsense.

The Q account has made references to "pizzagate," a conspiracy that emerged in 2016. It suggested that Hillary Clinton had ties to a child-sex ring operated from a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. In December of that year, a gunman entered the pizzaria and demanded answers. Of course, there was never a plot involving Clinton. It was whispers on the internet.

Unfounded accusations of pedophilia have since become a trademark of far-right extremists.

Anonymous, a loose collective of hackers and activists, has no centralized structure. It is known for trolling, leaks and launching "denial of service" cyberattacks as a form of protest. Like QAnon, Anonymous emerged from 4Chan. It later became widely associated with the Guy Fawkes mask. The group has launched cyberops against the Church of Scientology and the Ku Klux Klan.

In its online release in which they asserted themselves against the original QAnon author, whose identity remains unknown, the Anonymous activists spoke out against the co-opting of their brand.

"Someone is gonna get hurt, so we have to put our foot down and start some sh*t with you all, oh kay?" the group wrote. "We don't know if you can hang with the real thing, cuz believe it or not—we're kind of upset that you'd try to even associate yourselves with our decentralized collective.

"Seems you have some kooky political agenda. We don't like brainless political agendas; hell we don't even like political agendas at all.

"You got all these foolish people all riled up with no proof, no leaks."

It remains unclear how the collective can combat the theory. On Twitter, however, some accounts have started to share information about alleged QAnon followers, a process known as doxxing.

David Reinert holds a large “Q” sign while waiting in line to see President Donald Trump at his rally August 2, at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. “Q” represents QAnon, a conspiracy theory group that has been seen at recent rallies. Rick Loomis/Getty Images