Study on QAnon shows high volume of conspiracy spread came from small number of YouTube channels

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she regrets previous social media postings on QAnon conspiracies

The Georgia Republican defends herself in a House floor speech on Feb. 4, 2021, as Democrats try to remove her from two committees over her past incendiary statements.

The rightwing conspiracy theory called QAnon has been in the headlines in recent weeks as Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, had been on the receiving end of attacks and condemnation over her past controversial remarks and exposing various falsehoods that stemmed from the viral movement. 

However, a Pew Research poll from November indicates that YouTube was a major factor in the spread of such disinformation. 

The study, which was conducted on December 19th, evaluated the 100 “most viewed YouTube news channels” for any references to QAnon. Among those channels, 11 of them produced a whopping 80 percent of those results. 

“In a subsequent content analysis conducted in September 2020, eight of these 11 YouTube news channels were still producing videos that mentioned QAnon,” the Pew studied found. “What’s more, four of them mentioned QAnon in half or more of the videos they published that month.”

“Some of these channels clearly advertised their orientation around these conspiracy theories, including one that put the word ‘QAnon’ in the thumbnail of all of its videos. Other channels were more subtle in their mentions, using euphemisms such as ‘our favorite anon,” the study continued. 

Pew noted that as of October 2020, “several” of those 11 channels were terminated by YouTube.


Another finding from the poll suggested that Democrats were more aware about the existance of QAnon than Republicans. 85 percent of Democrats who say they have “high” political knowledge say they’ve heard of the conspiracy theory while only 59 percent of Republicans with “high” political knowledge also know what it was. Democrats with “middle” political knowledge also were able to recognize QAnon versus only 43 percent of their GOP counterparts. 

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