X22 Report “QAnon” conspiracy figure exposed
Update Feb 15, 2021: It has been brought to our attention that some of the data we found scraped by a third-party domain (it was dead at the time of our research, but we found incomplete snippets still in the Google cache) was actually research done by ne0ndistraction on GitHub. Therefore, this expose published by Hucksters was in fact NOT exclusive, credit should be to ne0ndistraction.
Hucksters can exclusively reveal that David Fishman, a New York computer technician who has since retired to Florida, is the person behind the extremely popular QAnon conspiracy blog (and podcast) known as the X22 Report.
In recent weeks the podcast received quite a bit of media attention after being banned from Spotify along with other QAnon streams after the community began spooking European newspapers like Der Spiegel.
Although Fishman has been transparent about his background in computer security and a few other details about his life, he has aggressively defended his anonymity even as controversies began to grow during 2020 surrounding the accuracy of QAnon-related websites. Previously, he often went by “Dave” while participating in online discussions involving various conspiracy theories, but as X22 continued to grow bigger it seemed that he tried to become more and more nameless on the web.
Interestingly, Hucksters also discovered that it was Fishman who ran the now-defunct website called NewzSentinel, which was among a long list of websites criticized as being “fake news” by various social media figures and monitoring organizations. In fact, proficient “troll-tracker” Josh Russell was able to tie apparent Iranian trolls to some of that site’s content, which they had apparently been sharing on websites like Reddit in order to further a variety of US propaganda goals. One such user, @dillonban was banned on Reddit some time ago.
This would seem to raise the question of why Iranian intelligence would distribute conservative-leaning conspiracy theories that might “support” President Trump at a time when their government is in a holy war against the United States government; one possible answer is that they want Republicans to look as “crazy” as possible in order to alienate moderate Americans. Another possible answer is that regardless of the USA, spreading anti-Israel conspiracies is always one of their long-term objectives.
Although X22 had seen increased traffic after the QAnon movement grew bigger in recent years, both of his websites have toyed with a large variety of conspiracy theories over the years. Other controversial bloggers such as Crazy Days and Nights also pivoted their focus to QAnon themes, as the web traffic and financial donations from “believers” apparently became too good for them to pass up.
Fishman claims he never expected such a large following when he started out blogging, but he seems to be making decent money from his work at this point, with revenue streams including one-time donations, membership subscriptions, and various embedded advertising networks on his blog, videos, and (formerly) his Spotify profile.
While Hucksters.net does not necessarily frown on conspiracy theories or their communities, our goal is to expose names and faces behind significant content portals whose objective is to influence the public’s thinking (regardless of political stance). Unless a journalist is truly endangered by their reporting (etc), then we believe this approach helps the general public to understand more about an influencer’s background and objectives, while reducing the potential confusion caused by bad actors, propaganda efforts, and otherwise.