Biden conspiracy that never came true
Today was meant to be their day.
Followers of the wildly popular QAnon conspiracy theory believed they would witness the "Great Awakening" at the Inauguration of Joe Biden.
The 78-year-old would be arrested for his role - alongside other Democrats and members of the media - for leading a liberal cabal of Satan-worshipping elites engaged in a co-ordinated coup to undermine President Donald Trump.
It goes without saying that none of that happened today. And the sad realisation is hitting hard.
On messageboards where QAnon believers have cheered each other along, today there is just resignation.
Among those jumping ship is Ron Watkins, the former administrator of 8Chan, a platform where the anonymous leader of QAnon, "Q", shared his prophecy.
After Mr Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States and Donald Trump boarded a chopper to Florida, Watkins took to Telegram.
He wrote: "We gave it our all. Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able.
"We have a new president sworn in and it is our responsibility as citizens to respect the Constitution regardless of whether or not we agree with the specifics or details regarding officials who are sworn in."
Ron Watkins pulls the plug. This will be absolutely crushing to QAnon believers: pic.twitter.com/SfxJwCLCoU— Jesselyn Cook (@JessReports) January 20, 2021
"Is anyone still holding the line?" one devotee wrote.
"So, was Q just one big lie and psyop that I foolishly followed and believed for over 3 years?" another asked.
"Guys and gals, I'm losing my everloving mind right now. Is this really happening? Was this part of the plan?"
Alex Kaplan from Media Matters, a non-profit media watchdog, shared screenshots from conversations on QAnon messageboards.
"I already miss him … God help us," one user wrote.
"Crying here," another wrote.
The fallout has led to splintering among hardcore followers of the theory - a theory that suggested there is a global child sex-trafficking ring that includes members of the media, politicians and celebrities.
"We've watched for the last 4 years as POTUS transformed America and our favorite (sic) anon and the team gave clues as to the transformation we are witnessing," one user wrote.
"If you don't trust the plan or have faith enough to allow it to take place as designated, you don't need to be here.
"Discussion is fine, asking for encouragement is cool, but if you wanna drop in the chat to tell us that 'it's over' or 'Trump is a traitor' or 'we're done for' then take a hike.
"I want this channel to provide hope and encouragement, not doom and gloom."
Today is Inauguration Day. It will be a milestone day for QAnon supporters. We may see splintering as Biden takes office between those realizing QAnon isn't real & those doubling down & moving the goalposts. Here's a poll from a QAnon Telegram channel today suggesting a divide. pic.twitter.com/CDdG2vm5ZD— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) January 20, 2021
Part of the reason the conspiracy developed was President Trump's failure to dismiss it.
Media Matters' analysis found Mr Trump had amplified accounts affiliated with QAnon more than 265 times during his time in the White House.
He had refused to condemn the group when asked directly about it.
"I've heard these are people that love our country," he said in August in the White House briefing room.
The US president amplifying those dangerous conspiracies is concerning. That other members of the Republican Party believe the conspiracy has merit is even more troubling.
Outgoing Republican Denver Riggleman said this in an interview recently:
"There are elected officials who believe (in QAnon). And that should just blow people's minds," he told Wired.
"I'm not going to say names, but I'll tell you there's a lot larger percentage in the Republican Party who believe there's a Deep State coup or cabal than people might think."
Congressman Riggleman, from Virginia, has been a vocal critic of QAnon but he is on his own condemning the cult-like group within the Republican Party.
It is part of the reason he did not seek re-election.
"The reason I'm here and not running for re-election is because I was so outspoken," he said.
Despite amplifying their views more than 265 times on social media, Mr Trump told the town hall interview: "I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against paedophilia - they fight it very hard. … I'll tell you about what I do know about. I know about Antifa and I know about the radical Left."
CNN reports that Mr Trump told a recent meeting that QAnon involves people "basically believe in good government".
QAnon beliefs are being questioned today like never before.
Originally published as Biden conspiracy that never came true