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Publisher: Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Zheng Wei Lim and Richard Ling

Volume: 17 pages, pdf


On December 4, 2016, a man carrying an assault rifle walked into a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC. He was intent on “self-investigating” whether the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, was the headquarters of an underground child sex ring allegedly run by then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her former campaign manager, John Podesta (Lopez 2016). He was motivated by stories he had read on right-wing blogs and social media that had developed this line of thought. In the process of his “self-investigation,” he fired several shots into the ceiling of the restaurant. No one was injured, but it was just one of the several threats made to the pizzeria after the news report spread through social media sites, such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter (Lopez 2016). The viral news report, however, was a hoax. The District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department also officially declared it as a “fictitious conspiracy theory” (Ritchie 2016).