Fake news has been at the forefront of election 2016. Fraudulent conspiracy theories, suspicious statistics and downright wrong news have gone viral, destroying more than the reputation of politicians. A fake story about Hillary Clinton running a child-trafficking ring has actually ruined one unassuming pizzeria.
According to the New York Times, Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. was reported as the front for a child-trafficking ring headed by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John D. Podesta. Shared with hashtag #pizzagate, the stories claimed that Clinton kidnapped, molested and trafficked children in the restaurant’s back rooms.
These allegations are - obviously - totally false.
James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong, has been bombarded with threatening messages like “we’re on to you” on his Instagram feed. He's received hundreds of death threats on texts, Facebook and Twitter. “From this insane, fabricated conspiracy theory, we’ve come under constant assault,” he said. Alefantis has enlisted the FBI and local police to help him and asked Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit to remove the articles.
Unfortunately, once something is online, it's near impossible to scrub. “It’s like trying to shoot a swarm of bees with one gun,” said Bryce Reh, the pizzeria's general manager. Reh's wife has even asked him to leave his job due to the threats and messages they've both received.