A Sky documentary that investigates some of the most mind-blowing conspiracy theories of recent years has shone a new light on some of the most baffling fake news stories to come out of the US.
After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News aired earlier this month and looked at the effect of disinformation campaigns on social media and the impact of well known conspiracy theories.
One of those theories is Pizzagate, which linked Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign with a fictional human trafficking ring back in 2016.
The story went viral at the time, despite being completely untrue, and its interest has blown up again over recent weeks with theorists now falsely linking it to Epstein’s private jet – the Lolita Express.
So what exactly is it? And how did it start?
Here’s everything you need to know about the Internet scandal.
What is Pizzagate?
Pizzagate was a news story which linked Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign with a fictional human trafficking ring.
It got its name from the alleged headquarters of the operation, which was the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. According to the conspiracy, this was also a meeting place for Satanic ritual abuse.
How did it all start?
In March 2016, the personal email account of Hillary’s campaign manger, John Podesta, was hacked.
WikiLeaks published the emails later that year and the conspiracy theorists claimed the email contained coded messages that alluded to human trafficking and a child sex ring.
Although the emails contained multiple references to pizza and pizza restaurants, there is no evidence that they are coded or refer to anything else.
Theorists then claimed that there were similarities between Comet Ping Pong’s logo and symbols linked to Satanism and paedophilia.
However, the New York Times stated that these similarities could be found in a series of unrelated logos if you looked close enough.
How did it affect Hillary?
Despite the theory having no evidence to support it, that didn’t stop non-supporters of Hillary from believing it, including gunman Edgar Maddison Welch who went down to the restaurant and fired an automatic rifle, as he claimed he wanted to “investigate” the case. Fortunately no one was injured.
How was the story shut down?
The story has been debunked by multiple fact checking news organisation from across the political board, with Fox News stating that story is completely untrue.
Claims of a secret underground network beneath Comet Ping Pong were disproven by the fact that the establishment had no basement, and their alleged evidence that John Podesta played a part in the kidnapping of Madeline McCann were actually sketches of a suspect taken from the descriptions of two eye witnesses.
On top of that, none of the alleged victims have come forward since the claims and no evidence has been found.
But despite all this, the scandal continues today and Comet is said to have received 70 pizzagate messages in recent weeks – even though the story isn’t true!
Hillary aired on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV on Thursday 11th June. To find out what else is on, check out our TV Guide.