Reddit on Wednesday removed its dedicated community for discussion of the ludicrous Qanon conspiracy. According to a notice that now replaces the subreddit, r/GreatAwakening, the impetus for ban—a last resort Reddit tends to avoid at all costs—lists “inciting violence, harassment, and the dissemination of personal information” as the cause. A second, smaller Qanon-related subreddit, r/the_greatawakening, was also banned, this one for “inciting harassment,” according to Reddit’s landing page.
For those blissfully unaware of Qanon, it’s a wide-ranging conspiracy based around a supposed government worker with security clearance who... spends his or her free time posting cryptic “clues” on the 8chan imageboard. A small but rapid following dissects these clues, supposedly intuiting the “true” nature of our nation’s affairs from these inane posts. Qanon followers have been photographed at Trump rallies and inside the Oval Office, though in terms of raw numbers, it’s a deeply fringe set of beliefs.
Those truly interested to know the intricacies of this ridiculous LARP are welcome to read Will Sommer’s excellent primer on the subject, but consider it in a similar vein to r/pizzagate—another conspiracy theory community Reddit banned. In much the same way the pizzagate conspiracy led to a gunman opening fire inside a Washington, DC, restaurant, two deeply gullible Qanon fanatics have been linked to an incident at the Hoover Dam and the nine-day occupation of a homeless encampment in Arizona.
What post or posts led to r/GreatAwakening and its considerably smaller clone r/the_greatawakening to be removed from the site remains unknown, though in the past Reddit has reserved whole-community bans for subreddits which display a pattern of abuse and unwillingness to cooperate with site-wide rules. We’ve reached out to Reddit for more information and will update if we hear back.
Update 9/12/18 4:55pm ET: In addition to the two Q-based communities listed above, user _korbendallas_ compiled several smaller communities like QProofs, Quincels, QClearanceAnon, and TheGreatWakeUp. It’s about 50/50 in terms of whether these subreddits were banned for inciting harassment or for ban evasion.