There is no more “2016” phenomenon than the rise of Fake News on our Facebook timelines and search results. Most of us have either fallen victim to being duped by one of these stories or we’ve watched in embarrassment as a friend has. It’s easy to think that the chaos resulting from these hoaxes are purely online.
But lies still have consequences. Yesterday they nearly resulted in people getting killed.
Thanks to a rapid response by Washington, DC police, 28 year old Edgar Welch, of Salisbury, N.C., was arrested and charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon.
Shortly before 3pm on December 4th, he entered Comet Ping Pong Pizza Parlor in Northwest DC and fired at least one shot. Two guns were recovered at the scene but no one was injured.
Little is known about welch at this point but he has a short, very weird, IMDB profile and was apparently accused of striking a teen with his car a few weeks ago.
The whole fake news hit, known as PizzaGate, is an incredibly bizarre tale:
Within hours, menacing messages like “we’re on to you” began appearing in his Instagram feed. In the ensuing days, hundreds of death threats — one read “I will kill you personally” — started arriving via texts, Facebook and Twitter. All of them alleged something that made Mr. Alefantis’s jaw drop: that Comet Ping Pong was the home base of a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John D. Podesta.
When Mr. Alefantis discovered that his employees were getting similar abusive messages, he looked online to unravel the accusations. He found dozens of made-up articles about Mrs. Clinton kidnapping, molesting and trafficking children in the restaurant’s back rooms. The articles appeared on Facebook and on websites such as The New Nationalist and The Vigilant Citizen, with one headline blaring: “Pizzagate: How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington’s Occult Elite.”
None of it was true. While Mr. Alefantis has some prominent Democratic friends in Washington and was a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, he has never met her, does not sell or abuse children, and is not being investigated by law enforcement for any of these claims. He and his 40 employees had unwittingly become real people caught in the middle of a storm of fake news.
Don’t be a sucker. Do your research and do what you can to help shut down these fake news sites. These jackasses are making as much as $10,000-30,000 per month from deception. Don’t help make them rich.