- Amazon currently displays hundreds of results for products associated with QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory, which the FBI has deemed as posing potential domestic terrorism threats.
- Business Insider found hundreds of results for t-shirts, books, stickers, masks, and other items when searching for “QAnon” in Amazon’s marketplace.
- However, not all of the results were directly tied to the far-right fringe conspiracy theory – some were pro-Trump propaganda or messaging associated with “Blue Lives Matter.”
- Amazon’s third-party seller policy prohibits the sale of “products that promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organisations with such views.”
- While Amazon lists hundreds of QAnon-related items for sale, other tech companies including Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook have declared a hardened stance against QAnon-related content leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon currently has hundreds of products listed for sale that promote the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.QAnon has been tied to violent acts, and the FBI has warned of the movement’s potential to incite domestic terrorism. A man in Nevada professed himself a follower of QAnon after blocking traffic with an armoured vehicle, and in 2019 a man cited the movement as the motivation for his plot to kill alleged New York mob boss Francesco Cali. In a search for “QAnon” on Amazon, Business Insider found the site produced hundreds of results for t-shirts, books, stickers, masks, bandanas, tumblers, hats, and other items related to the movement. Amazon also churned out hundreds of results for “WWG1WGA,” the shorthand for QAnon’s “Where we go one we go all” slogan.
Most of the products on Amazon sport the “Q” symbol, or bear the movement’s signature WWG1WGA saying, as well as others, like “Trust the Plan.” Many also include products merging both support for the QAnon movement as well as for the president.
Amazon’s third-party-seller policy prohibits the sale of “products that promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organisations with such views.” The company did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
A $US9.99 gold coin from the seller eTradewinds displays President Trump under the words “Keeping America Great,” with “WWG1WGA” displayed in smaller letters. A customer review of the product from May 6 reads “took this to work and displaying it proudly by my Trump figurine.”
The product description of a $US15 t-shirt reading “WQKE,” with a “Q” in place of the “O,” says in part, “let others know about QAnon, the government corruption and deep state.” It also advertises the t-shirt as “a great Q Generation gift for a friend or family member with a soft spot for the dark web.”
Various t-shirts sport references to the White Rabbit, the character in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which the QAnon movement has used to represent the need to follow the truth “down the rabbit hole” and uncover the plot that exists to attack Trump. One of the t-shirts displays multiple rabbits pouring out “The Red Pill,” an allusion to the phrase used to describe one’s political shift towards the right. Another depicts a white rabbit with Trump’s standard hairstyle.
However, not all of the search results for “QAnon” produce items directly related to the movement. Some are simply paraphernalia supporting President Trump, gun rights, the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, and expressions of traditional patriotism.
While Amazon rival Walmart lists a few products associated with the movement, it appears to take a much firmer hand in blocking and moderating merchandise. All that was available as of August 12 was a$US9.99 key chain sporting an American flag, a “Q” symbol, and the “WWG1WGA” slogan sold and shipped by seller 3dRose LLC. The same seller offers a $US14 water bottle emblazoned with the US flag and the slogan, which is currently out of stock on Walmart’s site.
Walmart did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Meanwhile, ecommerce platform Etsy also has a substantial collection of QAnon product offerings, like t-shirts, masks, bumper stickers, and 24K gold necklaces “for a proud QANON patriot!”
In an email to Business Insider, Etsy said that product listings associated with certain movements are allowed as long as they don’t violate the company’s seller or prohibited items policies, which ban items that promote hate or that could incite violence. The company said it is continually reviewing items on the site and could remove items in the future if they’re found to violate Etsy’s policies.
Tech companies take action against QAnon, which the FBI says poses domestic terrorism threats
As Amazon lists hundreds of QAnon-related items for sale, other tech companies have taken a more aggressive approach against QAnon content leading up to the 2020 presidential election. Twitter said it was zeroing in on “so-called QAnon activity” in July and reportedly removed 7,000 accounts associated with the far-right movement. TikTok disabled two popular QAnon hashtags – “QAnon” and “WWG1WGA” – in late July as well.
Google has blocked merchandise that promotes QAnon from reaching customers, banning the term “QAnon” from being searchable in its shopping tab, according to a Telegraph report.
And NBC News reported that Facebook was conducting an internal investigation into how extensive QAnon’s reach was on its platform and found millions of followers to be active on the site. The site has been taking action in recent months to remove some QAnon groups from the platform.
The FBI warned in a secret document last year that conspiracy theories, including QAnon, could pose domestic terrorism threats. The agency has tied QAnon beliefs to fuelling acts of violence, including a man in Nevada who was arrested after blocking traffic with an armoured truck stocked with rifles, ammunition, and body armour and professed himself a follower of the movement.
QAnon was also cited as a motivator for the killing of alleged New York mob boss Francesco Cali. The attorney for Anthony Comello, who was charged for the murder, said his client was a QAnon follower whose support for the movement “evolved into a delusional obsession” when he shot the man to death in early 2019.
Experts at West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Centre recently concluded that the rise of QAnon poses a threat to national security, Motherboard reported, and found similarities between it and “other far-right extremist movements, such as the various militant, anti-government, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi extremist organisations across the United States.”
Amazon lists billions of products for sale on its site and has landed in hot water in the past for what many have criticised as a mostly hands-off approach to moderating listings. Amazon disputed that assessment, telling Business Insider that the company’s proactive systems caught more than 6 billion suspicious listings in 2019 before they landed in the marketplace. Still, content promoting anti-semitic, white-supremacist, and far-right extremist messages have proliferated on the platform.
Third-party sellers also reportedly use AI-generated listings to take advantage of the company’s recommendations system, sometimes producing odd results that could go against company policies.One seller used a bot to generate smartphone cases in 2017 featuring text like “heroin, spoon and syringe” and “adult diaper worn by an old man.”
A July report from BBC revealed that Amazon was selling merchandise bearing White supremacy symbols, such as the one worn by the Christchurch shooter who was accused of killing 51 people, as well as neo-Nazi literature and Ku Klux Klan-related materials.
The report also noted the presence of Boogaloo-related products on Amazon’s marketplace. Boogaloo is another far-right movement that advocates for violent uprisings against both the government and those who identify with left-wing politics. Amazon said it took down the products after the report was published.
Business Insider did not find as many results blatantly tied to Boogaloo as to QAnon, but Hawaiian shirts are prominent in the search results as is messaging aligned with “God-Given” gun rights. Other items, such as patches, are listed under less-obvious keywords, such as “Boog line.”