Citigroup has fired a senior vice president in the bank’s technology department after probing his outside job running the most prominent website devoted to QAnon, a debunked yet popular conspiracy theory.
Jason Gelinas was put on paid leave in September after being identified as the person behind the site QMap.pub and related mobile apps. His role was first reported by Logically.ai, a fact-checking site.
“Mr. Gelinas is no longer employed by Citi. Our code of conduct includes specific policies that employees are required to adhere to, and when breaches are identified, the firm takes action,” a spokesperson for the bank told CBS MoneyWatch.
“As outlined in our code of conduct, employees are required to disclose and obtain approvals for outside business activities,” the spokesperson added.
It was hardly a typical side hustle, according to media accounts of Gelinas’s alleged moonlighting. The former Citi executive is credited with helping transform an obscure and incoherent conspiracy cult into one affecting mainstream politics, with QAnon supporter and Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greenein the U.S. House of Representatives.
Popular among a group of supporters of President Donald Trump, theincludes claims that celebrities routinely participate in child sex trafficking and pedophilia. At its center is “Q,” an anonymous user who started writing about the conspiracies on website 4chan.
Gelinas was raking in more than $3,000 monthly from a crowdfunded Patreon site dedicated to supporting the QAnon site, which he said helped cover its operating costs, according to Bloomberg News.
Along with his Wall Street job and running QAnon’s largest news-aggregation hub, Gelinas lived what appeared to be a normal suburban life, with a house, wife and children in New Jersey, according to the business news service.
- Citigroup has fired an employee who ran a website dedicated to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory alleging that President Donald Trump is fighting a cabal of human traffickers.
- Jason Gelinas, a New Jersey employee of the company, was previously put on paid leave when Logically.ai reported that he operated QMap.pub, a main aggregator of “Q drops,” the messages that are the foundation of the conspiracy theory.
- Gelinas’ QAnon website earned 10 million monthly visitors, according to the analytics firm SimilarWeb.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Citigroup has fired an employee who ran a popular website dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory, Bloomberg News first reported on Tuesday.
Jason Gelinas, a New Jersey man who worked at Citigroup as an information technology specialist, operated the website QMap.pub, which recently earned 10 million average monthly views, according to data from SimilarWeb, a digital analytics firm.
A spokesperson for Citigroup told Insider, “Mr. Gelinas is no longer employed by Citi. Our code of conduct includes specific policies that employees are required to adhere to, and when breaches are identified, the firm takes action.”
QAnon — the baseless far-right conspiracy theory that claims President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a “deep state” cabal of satanic pedophiles — is based on cryptic messages left by an anonymous figure called “Q” on 8kun, an anonymous message board formerly known as 8chan.
Gelinas had previously been put on paid leave after the fact-checking website Logically.ai reported his ties to QAnon on September 10. The website was taken down soon after the publication of the Logically.ai report.
It’s also possible that Gelinas had ties to 8kun, as the two websites shared an IP address, according to research by Fredrick Brennan, the founder of 8chan.
QMap.pub aggregated “Q drops,” or the anonymous posts by “Q,” and spread
Some of the largest wildfires ever recorded are raging across the west. Millions of acres have burned in California, Oregon and Washington. Smoke has reached as far as Europe.
Firefighters like Michael Seaton, who lost his home in the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, have worked more than a month straight.
“So you’re out on the line for two days and you’re sleep deprived out there. So I’ve seen people standing up with their eyes closed and they’re basically asleep,” said Seaton, a CAL FIRE engineer.
“All of this is on the heels of wildfire emergencies in 2019, 2018 and 2017 that points to the pattern of how climate warming is predisposing large landscapes to unprecedented fire activity,” said Doug Morton, Chief of NASA’s Biospheric Sciences Laboratory.
Heat waves and drought have left a thick layer of dry vegetation easily sparked by people and lightning. Although nearly 85% of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused by humans, people continue moving to fire-prone areas in droves.
“How are we as a country spending our money? Are we going to have an F-35 dogfight with the Russians or the Chinese? Maybe, but the more likely thing is we’re going to continue to burn our citizens over,” said Graham Kent, a seismologist who runs a system of cameras that help quickly assess fires.
New tools to fight fires
For decades, firefighting has been slow to change. Now, Kent is among a handful of mostly small groups bringing new solutions to the way we fight, detect and prevent wildfires.
With this season’s fires burning within miles of Silicon Valley, home to the world’s tech giants and some of their billionaire leaders, Kent and others are calling for more money, and ideas, to stop the trend.
“They should be involved in wide scale fuel reduction
Responders fighting wildfires in Washington are getting some extra help from SpaceX and the company’s internet-from-space Starlink initiative. SpaceX loaned the Washington Emergency Management Division a handful of user terminals that can tap into the company’s Starlink satellites, providing internet to rural areas where first responders are battling raging wildfires.
SpaceX is still at the very beginning of building out its Starlink constellation, which could consist of nearly 12,000 satellites when it’s complete. That number of satellites could beam broadband internet services to every spot on Earth at all times from relatively low orbits, potentially providing global internet coverage from space. There’s still a ways to go. So far, SpaceX has launched nearly 800 satellites, though dozens have also been taken out of orbit. SpaceX plans to start beta testing in the Washington area with the satellites that remain in orbit.
“What happened is that they happened to have satellites that could reach our area,” Steven Friedrich, a spokesperson for the Washington Emergency Management Division, wrote to The Verge in a message.
Glad SpaceX could help! We are prioritizing emergency responders & locations with no Internet connectivity at all.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 28, 2020
The Washington Emergency Management Division is using two of SpaceX’s user terminals to receive broadband from overhead satellites. One is located near Malden, Washington, which was devastated by wildfires, and another is located near a smaller fire dubbed the Sumner-Grade Wildfire in western Washington. “Without the terminal, internet would be nearly impossible to achieve” near the Malden area, according to Friedrich. “My understanding is this is the first [public] use of Starlink and the partnership their technical experts have had with our team in the state [Emergency Operations Center] has been invaluable,” Friedrich said.