This is the central conclusion carried out in a new study by the Berlin-based Center for Analysis, Strategy and Monitoring (CeMAS) which is exclusively funded by the Alfred Landecker Foundation.
The study "Q vadis? The spread of QAnon in the German-speaking world" contains representative data established via a survey, that demonstrates both the spread and resonance of QAnon conspiracy narratives. This data is supplemented by an analysis of the reach of German-speaking channels and groups on Telegram that fall within the QAnon spectrum.
The QAnon movement is based, among other things, on the so-called "Deep State" myth, according to which a secret elite has brought the USA under its control. Again and again, QAnon supporters spread anti-semitic and anti-democratic content.
The following key findings emerged from the study:
- More than one in ten people in Germany agree with QAnon conspiracy narratives.
- AfD and FPÖ voters in particular are more likely to believe in QAnon conspiracy narratives.
- Almost half of the currently unvaccinated people in Germany and Austria believe to some extent in QAnon conspiracy narratives.
- QAnon content continues to be very popular on Telegram: messages reach hundreds of thousands of accounts in German-speaking countries every day.
Global crises fuel the QAnon movement. At the start of the Covid19 pandemic, QAnon experienced enormous growth in membership and reach in German-speaking countries. Josef Holnburger, co-director at CeMAS, reminds us that other catastrophic events can also act as a catalyst; "with the invasion of Ukraine, we are seeing a wider reach of the scene again. Every catastrophe is used to spread their narratives of a global, supposed conspiracy - in their final analysis, the milieu around QAnon wishes for war and chaos".
Pia Lamberty, co-director at CeMAS, explains the significance of the results; "Society must learn its lessons from the pandemic: Conspiracy narratives and disinformation are not only a challenge in managing crises, but an attack on democratic values".
Even though QAnon conspiracy narratives themselves may seem absurd, it is important not to underestimate the danger posed by them. "Anti-democratic voices must always be contradicted and social boundaries of what can be said must be clearly named and outlined. On the one hand, this includes exposing disinformation and conspiracy ideologies, denouncing them and taking action against them. On the other hand, this includes combating racism and anti-Semitism, which often try to hide under the guise of freedom of expression," says Andreas Eberhardt, CEO of The Alfred Landecker Foundation.