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The coming of the storm: moral panics, social media and regulation in the QAnon era

O’Brien, M. ORCID: 0000-0003-2619-4563 (2022). The coming of the storm: moral panics, social media and regulation in the QAnon era. Information & Communications Technology Law, doi: 10.1080/13600834.2022.2088064


The presidency of Donald Trump was marked by a period of populist and sometimes extremist right-wing policies and rhetoric, and an escalation of ‘culture wars’ between the left and right in politics and society. He also gained the devoted support of numerous right-wing and so-called alt-right groups, such as QAnon, a conspiracy theory group that first emerged in 2017. This paper takes the novel approach of exploring the existence of a moral panic having formed around the activities of QAnon itself. I suggest that the current regulatory discourses around QAnon are flawed, with insufficient attention being paid to a wider range of extremist groups in assessing how to regulate extremist speech and action.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Publisher Keywords: QAnon, moral panic, Donald Trump, capitol insurrection, hate speech, regulation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
J Political Science
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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