QAnon is running amok, and the time has come for interventions

In one important aspect, though, QAnon is like Islamic State: Adherents often start from a feeling of alienation and then acquire an unquestioning faith in the righteousness of a cause that gives vent to their frustrations. Davey says longer term solutions are needed to minimize the damage. These include the “mass rollout of digital literacy initiatives, which can help limit the uptake of conspiracy theories.” He says it’s necessary to engage with and talk to believers and “hopefully help them disengage from the QAnon movement.”

A model for that kind of dialogue can already be found on Reddit. Created in July 2019, the subreddit r/QAnonCasualties aims to be a resource for people with loved ones who’ve been taken in by the movement. It currently has more than 9,000 members. Posts with titles such as “A letter to my Q BF!” and “This madness cost us our home” detail the consequences of having a friend or family member start believing in QAnon. The posts, describing angry confrontations in families, closely echo the experiences of people who confront friends and relatives who’ve joined cults.

Underneath each post about losing a friend or relation to QAnon, the subreddit’s users leave advice or words of encouragement. “Feeling like their whole personality has changed is such a shock,” said one comment. “The next few days are gonna suck,” another said on the prospect of having to spend just a few days with their QAnon-believing mother. “We can’t deprogram people or get a loved one out of the cult, but at least we can offer support,” said ‘OreWins,’ one of the moderators of the subreddit, communicating via Reddit’s chat function. OreWins said the forum “helps people understand what QAnon is and how it gets its hooks into people.”