How QAnon's lies are hijacking the national conversation

It started with a Tweet from a QAnon supporter at 2:09 in the morning: #SubpoenaObama.

Though devoid of context, the cryptic message made sense to anyone in tune with the groundless conspiracy theory that the Obama administration — prior to leaving office in 2017 — had taken active measures to undermine the incoming Trump presidency.

Within a minute, the same Twitter account sent another tweet encouraging others to push the hashtag, adding that if they do, “good things will happen.”

Dozens of QAnon enthusiasts obliged, and before long the hashtag was on fire, at times racking up roughly 4,000 tweets per hour, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), which tracks misinformation across social media channels. Along the way #SubpoenaObama was tweeted by conservative influencers such as Glenn Beck and former Fox Nation personalities Diamond and Silk.

By the next day, May 14, the hashtag had apparently caught the eye of President Trump, who used Twitter to urge Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — to call Obama to testify.