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Month: July 2021

Where in the World is Q? Clues from Image Metadata

We originally published this post at Bellingcat, and are reproducing it here by permission (archived version here). The authors wish to express our gratitude to the staff of Bellingcat — especially Giancarlo Fiorella and Maxim Edwards — for their assistance in geolocating Q’s photos from East Asia, and for several stimulating conversations that didn’t make it into print. ************************************************************************************** The hunt to identify the person or group behind the QAnon conspiracy theory continues. Known only as “Q,” this individual or collective is responsible for the many posts, or “drops,” that appeared on internet imageboards between October 2017 and December 2020. It has not been an easy search. But a fresh approach has yielded more clues. Image metadata comprises many different kinds of information, some of which can speak to the origin of the image itself and, by extension, who created it. Since many of Q’s posts come with an image attached, examining image metadata can provide clues as to where Q has been — and when. We examined metadata found on images associated with 27 Q drops. We infer from the metadata that the images are screenshots taken in two time zones: UTC+8 and the Pacific time zone. UTC+8 is a time zone…