• QAnon groups grew 600% between March, when the pandemic took hold, and June
  • President Trump has retweeted 200 QAnon-related missives
  • Forbes warns QAnon threatens businesses because of its ability to spread misinformation and disinformation unabated

Facebook has been busily trying to respond to criticisms it allows baseless conspiracy theories to flourish on its pages, but no matter how quickly it blocks posts and pages, a recent analysis indicates followers of fringe theories like QAnon are growing.

President Trump has retweeted at least 200 missives supporting QAnon, a Media Matters analysis found.

“Q” is a mysterious figure, purportedly a government official, who posits that Trump is working to dismantle a group of Washington elites engaged in pedophilia and sex trafficking. Its theories have grown to include antivaccine, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant conspiracies.

Trump’s family members and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani also are fans, as well as some former administration officials.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, who won the Republican nomination this week in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, was poised to give QAnon a wider stage in Congress since she faces no opposition in the Nov. 3 election.

Psychiatrist and researcher Joseph Pierre of the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine said in times of crisis people turn to conspiracy theorists like QAnon.

“When we feel insecure, we often look for information that provides an explanation for chaotic events,” Pierre told Discover magazine.

“Where people are feeling powerless, anxious and threatened, conspiracy theories can offer some relief,” Northumbria University social psychologist Daniel Jolley told Discover.

The pandemic only amplified the problem as some world leaders downplayed the severity of the problem while the death toll soared, standing at nearly 760,400 worldwide Friday, 167,300 in the U.S., Johns Hopkins tracking data showed.

A report from Forbes warned that QAnon also threatens businesses, saying the hashtag #QAnon added to any post guarantees widespread dissemination, enabling disinformation and misinformation to spread unabated, undermining every aspect of society.

An analysis showed the theory gaining traction on Facebook despite the social networking site’s efforts to remove pages associated with it for breaking content policy rules.

An analysis by the social-media research firm Storyful found the 10 largest public QAnon groups on Facebook saw their membership swell to about 600% between March and July. The analysis did not include private groups.

The Guardian reported it found more than 170 QAnon groups, pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram with more than 4.5 million aggregate followers hailing from at least 15 countries. Twitter recently blocked links associated with QAnon.

Head of digital policy Chloe Colliver of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in the U.K. said adherents to the theory are tenacious and Facebook has been central to their effort to gain purchase.

“That’s definitely a strong cult-like element to being part of the QAnon environment and feeling like you are in the know as opposed to those who aren’t part of Q’s efforts – that’s what gives them recruitment power,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

Travis View, a researcher and co-host of QAnon Anonymous podcast, told the Guardian social media platforms have been slow to police conspiracy sites, and Facebook has actually promoted some QAnon pages to users.

NBC News reported that Facebook is considering a new approach against QAnon, applying the same standards it uses against militias and other violent social movements.