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Mike Pence sparks QAnon theories after deleting tweet featuring badge

Mike Pence sparks QAnon theories after deleting tweet featuring badge
Vice President Mike Pence is fuelling QAnon conspiracists after he tweeted, and then deleted, a photograph of him standing next to a Florida sheriff deputy wearing a QAnon badge.

The photo showed Pence being greeted by members of the Broward Sheriff's Office SWAT team at Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday. One of the men pictured was wearing a red and black badge with a Q on it, which appears to be the same design as QAnon merchandise being sold online.  

The apparently Q-loving officer has been identified as Sergeant Matt Patten of the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

QAnon is an elaborate conspiracy born on 4Chan last October after an anonymous poster claiming to be a high level US government official called ‘Q’ began posting cryptic messages. It claims President Donald Trump is secretly trying to bring down a child sex trafficking ring and the Mueller investigation is just a cover. The theory has since evolved and spawned numerous alternative narratives.

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The QAnon badge photo was shared on the vice president’s official account, meaning it’s unlikely that Pence posted it himself.

An official from the vice president’s office told Buzzfeed News the image was deleted after staff were made aware of the QAnon badge, so as to avoid drawing attention to the conspiracy theory.

The account later shared a new version of the tweet without the man wearing the badge.

“The patch is not authorized by BSO,” Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told the Miami New Times. “This matter will be addressed immediately.”

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