Business seemed to be going great for Peloton. In September, Reuters reported that the company benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic with lockdowns in effect and people seeking at-home workouts. The shares for Peloton shot up by 8 percent while sales for its signature electric bikes tripled to $485.9 million, according to its quarterly review. But things are about to be shaken up, as some users have spotted QAnon supporters on the Peloton platform with Q-associated hashtags.
The right-wing political conspiracy movement has elicited intense criticism and condemnation for its baseless theories concerning major politicians and celebrities. Many of its adherents believe that a Satanic cult runs the world alongside a widespread theory that there is an elaborate plan to destabilize the United States from within Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, Washington Post's assistant opinion editor Drew Goins tweeted this image and remarked, "Getting radicalized on Peloton."
The image showed users sharing hashtags affiliated with QAnon, including #Trump2020, #MAGA2020, #Q, and #WWGOnePelotonWGA. The last hashtag appears to be a spin on QAnon's slogan: Where We Go One, We Go All.
In a statement to Input about QAnon's presence on its platform, a Peloton spokesperson said, "Peloton has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful content. We actively moderate our channels and remove anything that violates our policy or does not reflect our company’s values of inclusiveness and unity or maintain a respectful environment."
How we got here — QAnon presence on Peloton appears to be the logical outcome of Q supporters getting the boot on other platforms. In the past few days, Facebook finally got serious about removing QAnon pages, accounts, groups, and other congregations on its network. This move, of course, comes rather late as Facebook played a personal role in allowing the disinformation campaign to linger and exacerbate on its website.
LinkedIn has also taken a more aggressive route to tackle QAnon hashtags and conspiracy articles. Websites like Etsy have also stated that it will remove QAnon affiliated merch. With content moderation efforts taking place, QAnon supporters are scrambling to connect with each other. Peloton seems to be one of those places.
We got hints of this before — Earlier in September, Slate reported that there were conspiracy theories mushrooming on Peloton forums by way of Q-sympathetic women. These theories, the report notes, won approval from "anti-vaxxers, yoga communities, and new moms." So it's not entirely shocking that Peloton has its little Q community. But the company appears to have already taken action. "It seems that @OnePeloton has moved on this in the last hour or so," Goins noted in a follow-up tweet. "No more # Q, no more # WWG […] anything. The tags appear to have been wiped clean."
Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Peloton.