QAnon followers were speculating on Tuesday night that Facebook’s new ban on all QAnon groups and pages was part of a complex plan by the Trump administration to root out the “deep state” and arrest their enemies. Or the social media company was trying to squelch the impending news that President Trump was about to crack down on his foes.
QAnon believers were making both arguments. Neither was true.
Earlier on Tuesday, Facebook announced it would remove any group, page or Instagram account associated with the QAnon conspiracy. Within 24 hours, hundreds of groups had disappeared, many of them with hundreds of thousands of followers.
After the ban, QAnon believers began to speculate on Twitter and other social media platforms that Facebook’s move was a sign that the moment they had predicted — Mr. Trump reveals his long fight with satanic pedophiles — had finally arrived.
One tweet, which was liked nearly 1,000 times, linked to an announcement by the Justice Department of a news conference Wednesday morning on a matter of “national security.” The tweet claimed the Justice Department was preparing charges against a number of senior Democrats, including Hillary Clinton.
Similar tweets by QAnon believers said the news conference would have even bigger news, including an appearance by Mr. Trump to announce that he had arrested hundreds of members of a shadowy group that QAnon believers falsely claim are secretly running a satanic cabal. Many of those tweets were also shared and liked hundreds of times.
The Justice Department’s news conference on Wednesday detailed the investigation and arrest of several members of the Islamic State terrorist organization. There was no mention of the satanic cabal that QAnon followers claim Mr. Trump is battling.
But after the conference ended, QAnon adherents still maintained the Justice Department would deliver on the sprawling conspiracy theory that their members have spun over years.
Researchers who study QAnon said it was typical of the group to incorporate new conspiracies into their narrative to account for inaccurate predictions. Travis View, a host of “QAnon Anonymous,” a podcast that seeks to explain the movement, said the group was already rallying around the idea that a surprise was coming in October or November.
Conspiracy theories, Mr. View said, have a way of continuing to live on, even after being repeatedly proven false.