Co-founder of top-ranking QAnon channel on Rumble says Facebook led her to the conspiracy theory

A prominent QAnon influencer who co-founded a consistently top-ranking QAnon channel on Rumble said that she got into the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory and then the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory due to activity on Facebook. 

Kate Buckley is a prominent QAnon influencer known online as “Kate Awakening.” She is the co-founder of Badlands Media, a QAnon Rumble channel whose content is consistently among the platform’s most liked videos.

During a July 13 appearance on the podcast Patriots: Behind the Mic, Buckley revealed that in early 2018, a Pizzagate discussion cropped up in a Facebook group she created “about these goofy conspiracy ... theories” and “something hit me and I said … I’m going to look into it.” During this “research” on the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, she allegedly discovered and “somehow stumbled upon the Q operation” (referring to QAnon’s central figure).

Facebook’s involvement in Buckley’s radicalization is a prominent example — and a lasting consequence — of how Facebook served as a major conduit for QAnon content until the platform finally cracked down on QAnon and related conspiracy theory content in 2020.

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Citation From the July 13, 2023, edition of Patriots: Behind the Mic, streamed on Rumble

KATE BUCKLEY (BADLANDS MEDIA CO-FOUNDER): It was February of 2018 and I had had kind of a goofy — I’ve always been into spirituality and ghost stories and aliens and things like that, but just more on like an entertainment level. And I had started just getting more into the really goofy conspiracy theories. And I even started a Facebook group for, you know, there was like 100 of us in there. We were all talking about these goofy conspiracy groups or theories, and somebody made a post saying like, “OK, what is the one conspiracy theory that like, no matter what, you’re just — you have no interest in looking into, you’re never going to look into it?”

And several people commented on that, saying “Pizzagate.” And I was like, oh, that’s actually one that I’m not going to research as well because I know what it’s kind of about loosely. I know that it’s about children. And I was a newish mom. My son was like 2 or 3 almost, and I was just, like, it was such a dark subject. And when I heard about it, I heard that it was already debunked. “Oh, it’s this lame thing, a bunch of crazy people and a guy shot up a pizza place and whatever.” But for whatever reason, this night, when I was looking at this post, I was like, something hit me and I said, I — I’m going to look into it, actually. I’m actually just going to take some time and research it. You know, if it is real, then I have a duty to look into it. And if it’s not, then I’ll find out that it’s not and whatever. 

So I researched it, and it was never-ending, the rabbit hole that I fell down. And again, keep in mind, this was early 2018. It was a lot different on the internet than it is even now or even a couple of years later. There were things that you could find that have been scrubbed, like even if I would have saved all of my links, like to go through it, none of that stuff exists anymore. And it was really awful.

And some of the things I saw were really awful and I couldn’t stop. Like, I would research all night. I would get up or I would get up in the morning. When I got up, I would take care of my kid and then I would put him to bed at night and I would research again. I’d be researching again throughout the day. I couldn’t stop. It was three days and nights of this, and it completely changed me as a person. And it was just so — it was so cosmic in that — because I was sitting there, like after I kind of had completed and knew now what was going on, thinking to myself, well, what do I do now? Like, now what do I do? I can’t go back to life. I can’t go and talk and have conversation. I can’t have small talk with people. I can’t talk about anything but this.

And so, you know, at that point, the Q operation was just a couple months old, a few months old, and I somehow stumbled upon the Q operation, literally the Monday — I started my Pizzagate research on a Friday, and I found Q on Monday. And I don’t remember what it was but it was — I just remember that it was a podcast with three guys talking and they were watching an MMA fight. And while they’re watching this fight, one of the guys was explaining this Q thing that he found on 4chan to the other two guys. And as I was listening to this, I was like, everything inside me was like, holy shit, this is real, holy shit, this is real. And then I, you know, struggled to try to figure out 8chan, which was absolutely almost impossible, and ended up — I don't know. That was my experience. So I went hard and then I started speaking out about it.

But, you know, I lost my marriage over it. And for a time, like, lost a lot of my friends. I had people saying incredibly horrible things to me, accusing me of being in a cult, accusing me of being a racist, a bigot, like all of this awful, awful stuff because I was now, like, a Trump supporter.