There is nothing quite like a social media post from the dead to stir up conspiracy theories.
Let’s start with a fact.
Not long after John McAfee’s apparent suicide in a Barcelona prison was reported on Wednesday, his since-deleted Instagram account posted the image of a capital “Q.” No text. No obvious hints. Just the letter.
After John McAfee’s death, his Instagram account posts a picture of a “Q.”
QAnon believers, as you’d expect, are thrilled. pic.twitter.com/M79J09D8gr
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) June 23, 2021
So what did it mean? That void has been nobly filled by conspiracy theories that touch on QAnon, add in a dash of Jeffrey Epstein and selectively quote McAfee’s own words.
Spanish authorities are adamant that the death of McAfee, 75, was a suicide. His death followed hard on the heels of a Spanish court ruling that McAfee could be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of tax evasion, according to Newsweek.
McAfee invoked the QAnon conspiracy more than a few times, as noted by the New York Post, which said McAfee “toyed” with QAnon followers.
The website Vice offered its review of the mad rush to issue theories by writing that, “Within minutes of the post being shared on Instagram, QAnon channels were on fire with dozens of outrageous and baseless conspiracies.”
“According to QAnon, McAfee was assassinated by the deep state, or is still alive, or may have even been the anonymous poster known as Q. One poster even claimed he was ‘snatched by Q’ because he wrote the encryption that protected the Dominion voting machines at the center of the election fraud conspiracy promoted by QAnon.”
One of the tales being told was that the post was the result of what’s known as a dead man’s switch — meaning a device or software that is activated when its owner dies.
Newsweek, which delved through Telegram conversations in its reporting, noted that in some 2019 posts, McAfee claimed incriminating evidence about corruption would be released upon his death.
MelQ, a QAnon advocate, took to Telegram to write, “There is the possibly a Key code to a dead mans switch. A file that has damning evidence against the deep state, that is to be unlocked at the time of his death. We will see if this pans out. Only time will tell.”
Poster QAnon John, however, debunked that theory, saying the code is just routine metadata, but offered a new theory, saying in part, “John McAfee did not commit suicide.”
Former 8kun administrator Ron Watkins offered his opinion, saying McAfee “has a dead man switch. He ‘died’. His dead man switch has not (yet) activated.”
“We will know soon if he is really dead, or managed to escape from prison under the guise of a ‘suicide’ [i.e. Epstein.],” he added.
But some had to let the fun out of the conspiracy balloon.
“Take the John McAfee stuff lightly. It could’ve very easily been a little publicity stunt to go out on. The deltas are fascinating but don’t hold your breath on this guy’s deadman switch,” said an account with the name Qtah.
“Those who claim to have blackmail that he claimed to have are sitting in high places, not running from the law or the deep state.”
And what would a moderately suspicious jail suicide of a sketchy famous person be without an Epstein reference or two? In this case, McAfee supplied it in an October tweet.
“I am content in here. I have friends. The food is good. All is well. Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine,” he wrote.
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