She Left QAnon. Now She Doesn’t Know What To Believe.

When I first found 27-year-old Ashley Vanderbilt’s TikTok account, it only had a handful of followers. During the pandemic, Vanderbilt lost her job as an office manager in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which left her with plenty of time to browse QAnon conversations on Telegram and read conspiratorial QAnon posts on Facebook. By October, she was far down the rabbit hole thanks to a family friend, and she even eventually brought one of her cousins in with her. “I’d talk to a family member of mine, and he’d send me articles. I started believing those,” Vanderbilt told me in January. Indeed, before President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, Vanderbilt’s TikTok was almost completely nonpolitical — her posts mostly featured her fiancé dancing while vacuuming, her 4-year-old daughter singing karaoke, and some axioms from her therapist. Engagement on her posts hovered around 20 to 40 likes, and not much