Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-30-2023

Journal / Book Title

The study was conducted by the Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication and the Global Center on Human Trafficking.


The QAnon conspiracy is largely an extension of several older conspiracies. A particularly influential conspiracy includes PizzaGate, which alleged that coded words and symbols found in hacked emails of John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, point to a secret child trafficking ring in the basement of the Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant, Comet Ping Pong (Benton and Peterka-Benton, 2021). While the conspiracy was dismissed as absurd (there is no basement in the pizzeria targeted), Edgar Maddison Welch accepted it as true driving to Washington D.C. from North Carolina armed with an AR-15 rifle and a .38 calibre handgun in the hopes of “liberating the children being held by child traffickers.” He entered where families were enjoying their meals and made his way towards the back of the building to locate the secret entrance to the basement ‘dungeon’