A South African web developer and tech journalist has been identified in a NBC News report as one of three people who helped boost the Qanon conspiracy theory to a wider audience, spreading the cryptic posts and messages from 4chan by taking the conspiracy from the dark corners of the Internet to the living rooms of everyday Americans.
Paul Furber, the web developer, joined forces with a Virginia man, Coleman Rogers, to enlist a “small-time YouTube star” and former “fringe right-wing” radio show host, Tracy Diaz, to bring the posts from Q, known as “Q drops,” to a more mainstream audience, according to NBC News. They helped spread them from anonymous message board websites to more widely used social media channels, including YouTube, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. It was that mainstream promotion of Q that led to people wearing Qanon shirts and holding up signs about Q at President Donald Trump’s rallies.
The Qanon posts began on 4chan in October 2017 with the anonymous poster claiming to have “Q-level security clearance” and knowledge of a secret effort by Trump and his allies to take down a government and cultural cabal, including politicians like Hillary Clinton, Hollywood celebrities and members of the so-called “deep state.” As NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins write, “Qanon is a convoluted conspiracy theory with no apparent foundation in reality,” and there is “no evidence,” of the claims about the targets of the theories.
Here’s what you need to know about Paul Furber, who says on Twitter he is a “Journo, Programmer, Artist, Musician, Pilot, Teacher, Luthier, Biker, Christian”:
1. Furber, Who Was a 4chan Moderator Using the Name BaruchtheScribe, Says He & Others Decided Q’s Message ‘Needed to Go Wider’
Some members of the Qanon community and those who have been looking into the people behind it have recently started questioning the involvement of the three early proponents of Qanon. A video, which you can watch above, was posted on YouTube on August 8, revealing details about the backgrounds of the so-called “Q bakers.” In another video, Roy Potter, a conspiracy theorist and Q follower who goes by Lt. Col. Potter, called on Paul Furber and Tracy Diaz, “to speak up and put this thing to rest,” by answering questions about what they know about Qanon. “I’m just saying that you know more than you’re willing to say because you’re afraid it will hurt your income ability. Something bigger than you is at stake now. A lot of it is coming out, but we need Paul and we need Tracy to say what really happened. Put your pride, put your self-preservation senses to the side and think about the bigger picture at this point. For the sake, literally, of the people of the United States” and the world.
According to NBC News, Furber and Coleman Rogers saw an opportunity to bring Qanon it to an audience of Baby Boomers, grandparents and other Trump supporters who didn’t have any idea what 4chan or 8chan, the anonymous board Q later moved to, were. “A bunch of us decided that the message needed to go wider so we contacted Youtubers who had been commenting on the Q drops,” Furber told NBC News in an email. Furber had been using the name BaruchtheScribe on 4chan, where he was a moderator. Rogers was also a 4chan moderator, using the name Pamphlet Anon.
In November 2017, after being contacted by Furber and Rogers, Tracy Diaz began talking about Qanon in YouTube videos. According to NBC News, she was among the first to mention Q on the video platform. She had previously discussed other conspiracy theories, including the baseless “pizzagate” theory and analyzed Wikileaks releases during the 2016 election, gaining a small following.
Her first video has been viewed more than 250,000 times, and in it Diaz says, she usually doesn’t cover things like it, but she said she was “just in case this stuff turns out to be legit because honestly it kind of seems legit.” Diaz, who has gone by TracyBeanz, now has more than 90,000 subscribers and more than 8 million views on her YouTube channel, along with 97,000 followers on twitter. She has said that she relies on donations from her followers as her sole source of income, according to NBC News, which uncovered a now-deleted video in which she said, “Because I cover Q, I got an audience.”
According to an archived Reddit page found by NBC News, Furber, Diaz and Rogers were the three original moderators on a Reddit message board dedicated to Q, which has since been deleted by the site. Zadrozny and Collins wrote for NBC News, “Their move to Reddit was key to Qanon’s eventual spread. There, they were able to tap into a larger audience of conspiracy theorists, and drive discussion with their analysis of each Q post. From there, Qanon crept to Facebook where it found a new, older audience via dozens of public and private groups. That audience then started to head to 8chan to check out the original source and interact directly with the posts.”
Furber was banned by Reddit for revealing the personal info of another user and in March 2018 his compatriots were also kicked off the site along with the entire Qanon Reddit board, according to NBC News. Rogers created an alternative medium to keep their followers, a 24-hour YouTube streaming network called Patriots’ Soapbox, which launched in April. NBC News reports that slip-ups on Patriots’ Soapbox by Rogers and Diaz have led some to believe they are among those who have been behind Q from the start.
One livestream appears to show Rogers logging into the 8chan account used by Q before the feed quickly cuts out, according to NBC News. Another livestream found by NBC News shows Rogers talking about a Q post that didn’t appear on Q’s feed, which led to questions about how he had found it and knew it was legitimate among hundreds of anonymous posts by people claiming to be Q.
2. Furber Says the NBC News Report About Him Has ‘Many Errors,’ While Diaz Says She Is Not Q & Does Not Know Who He or She Is
Paul Furber responded to the NBC News report on Twitter, writing, “I love how many errors there are in the first sentence alone. I told you the truth in our email exchanges @BrandyZadrozny – why didn’t you use it? Saved under /research/q/wrong/ for when the time comes :)”
Diaz and Rogers have also said they are not Q and do not know who he is.
“I wrote this long seven thousand word piece today, to hopefully put to bed some of the innuendo and rumor out there, and stave off these accusations that have been so maliciously thrown at me. I have done nothing to hurt anyone,” Diaz wrote in a May blog post. “I am not misleading anyone- my work is open source. You are not required to like or even trust me for the information to be of value to you. This work I am doing, my social media, my YouTube– they are not about ME as a person. They are about getting the sunlight on the evil and corruption in this world. I am honored to be able to help you all to learn a little more about it, and if you like me as a person as we go along, then that is even better.”
After the NBC News report was published, Q mentioned NBC in an 8chan drop.
3. Furber Has Said the Current Person Posting as Q Is Fake & All ‘Q Drops’ Since January 4, 2018, Should Not Be Trusted
Furber has said in recent weeks that the person currently posting as Q is fake, claiming it is either a LARP (live-action roleplay) or that someone has infiltrated the Q community and taken over the account with malicious intent. He says the real Q stopped posting and every post by Q since January 4, 2018, should not be trusted.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Furber wrote out a timeline of Qanon and revealed when he thinks things took a turn. That came after the person posting as Q criticized Furber, who is the board owner of /cbts/ the 8chan board where Q drops are posted and discussed.
“Jan 5 is when the imposters take over #qanon’s tripcode password. The style changes radically: it becomes CAPS-ridden, immature and full of outright falsehoods. Q accuses the board owner of /cbts of lying,” Furber tweeted. “/ But the new #qanon was himself lying. The IP he used was one the mods had never seen before. The board owner would clarify all of this in detail later as well as posting the logs as proof. The new #qanon became obsessed with the idea of private communicatons between the mods and the real Q, denying it had ever happened and that the claims were the reason for the board change. This makes no sense of course. …
He continued, “The fake #qanon moved his posts over to /thestorm/ board but only for a couple of days. He then insulted the board owners and set up his own board at /greatawakening/. Many of us could already see that this wasn’t the real Q but some script kiddies with the tripcode pw. …So what happened to the real #qanon? Obviously he can’t post on 8chan with any authenticity. And any statement from the President on the current Q might compromise all of Q, including the real drops from last year.”
After the NBC News report about him, Furber also pointed to other evidence he says indicates Q is no longer posting, including Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ response to a question about Qanon, Sean Spicer’s statement that Q is not legitimate, Michael Flynn Jr.’s statement that Q is not legitimate and statements by “Dilbert” creator turned right wing conspiracy theorist Scott Adams, who visited Trump and then said Q isn’t real.
“How to wait for confirmation of anything I’ve said? My guess is Iran regime will fall by Sept. and the administration will be going after the cabal before the midterms. So patience is required. Use your discernment about everything and check things out for yourself,” Furber tweeted.
4. He Is a Developer Who Created a ‘Digital Signage Player Solution’ Used by Many Corporate Clients in South Africa
While not talking about conspiracy theories on social media, Furber works in the tech world. According to a bio on a conference website, “Paul has been in the IT industry since the 80s and writing about it since the early 90s. He has written for Brainstorm, the Sunday Independent, the Financial Mail and Business Day on a variety of business and IT topics. As well as his experience in journalism, he is a software developer and systems architect with several large projects to Government and private enterprises under his belt. He has also consulted to the SAPS and large multinationals as a digital forensics expert.
On his Linkedin profile, Furber says, “I write, I code, I code to help my writing and I write about coding.” Furber has worked as a developer for Tildedot since 2013. He writes on Linkedin, “I have developed a digital signage player solution on embedded hardware for corporates and SMEs that is currently running at many customers, including Sandton City, TotalSports, Adidas, Ericsson, Mitsubishi, Hitachi and Arrow Altech.”
Furber lives in the Johannesburg area of South Africa.
5. Furber Graduated From Falcon College in Zimbabwe in 1984 & Has Worked at ITWeb as a Writer Since 2006
Paul Furber studied at Falcon College in Zimbabwe from 1979 to 1984, according to his Linkedin profile. Along with his work as a developer, Furber has worked as a journalist covering the tech industry for many years.
He began writing for ITWeb, a South African media company that covers business and technology news, in 2006, starting as a group senior writer, he says on Linkedin. He has been the group senior writer for Brainstorm, an ITWeb trade publication, for several years and was also the features editor for the magazine from 2011 to 2013. He also writes for CareerWeb.
“As part of his work at ITWeb, Paul currently hosts a monthly round table with local industry leaders on popular topics,” a biography on a conference website says. You can watch one of those round tables below: