Ron Watkins, the right-wing conspiracy theorist and a key figure in the QAnon movement, is selling screenshots of his tweets as NFTs. Because of course, anyone with even a somewhat notable tweet has tried to cash in on the frothy market for digital collectibles.
Watkins, along with his dad, for years ran the message board 8chan, where the mysterious leader of QAnon posted updates about a massive conspiracy by elites to remove President Trump from office and prevent him from revealing an underground pedophilia ring... along with heaps of other unfounded and ludicrous fictions. Reporting since the 2020 election has suggested that Watkins is the man behind the anonymous Q figures, or one of them.
Since the election, which President Trump did not in fact win, Watkins has said he would resign from 8chan and pivoted to appearing in right-wing outlets like One News America Network, where he is a supposed expert on election fraud. He also posts conspiracy theories to his 400,000 followers on the messaging app Telegram.
Promises not met — The problem for Watkins is that, after years of promises by Q that have never materialized, even his own followers are starting to lose faith. And they think his move to sell NFTs is nothing more than a cheap money grab. “If I wanted to see the tweet, I can do so for free lol,” one follower wrote in a comment, according to Vice. “NFTs are max cringe level grifting, dumbest concept I've ever heard of.” Another said: “Selling NFTs like this is grifting to the extreme. Shameful. Despicable.”
Watkins is defending himself, saying that the sale of the NFTs — essentially, certificates of authenticity that give someone ownership of a digital item — will help him fund a “secret project” that will “help save America.” According to Vice, that project is a “Digital Bill of Rights,” or a document that would be comparable to the Constitution and outline freedoms that people should enjoy on social media platforms.
Classic grift — The NFTs that Watkins are selling are screenshots of several tweets he wrote in the run-up to the Capitol riots, which were all retweeted by then-President and frequent tweeter, Donald Trump. Watkins was permanently suspended from Twitter, so you have to trust him that these are real. The highest bid on one of the NFTs stands at around $500. It’s at least somewhat comforting that not even crazed QAnon followers are buying this BS.
Trump, meanwhile, has never revealed a pedophilia ring run by elite Democrats, or even so much as a shred of evidence of the widespread voter fraud he still claims occurred, but that hasn’t stopped grifters in Congress and the House of Representatives from continuing to sycophantically defend the former President, lest they lose supporters.
The market for NFTs has had a far more successful run over the last year than the former President, with the largest platform, OpenSea, recently clearing more than $1 billion in sales in a single week. But skeptics think that much of the market for digital collectibles is nothing more than a pump-and-dump scheme, with people artificially bidding up prices in order to juice demand before dumping the NFTs onto a higher bidder.
There may be some legitimate uses, as people buy exclusive rights to work from their favorite artists and artists can continue to earn from their work for years after the fact thanks to smart contracts that ensure they see a slice of every sale. But many of the NFTs being sold feel like bad jokes, like a picture of a rock that sold for $1 million. Anything from Watkins definitely falls into that category.