We Need To Talk: How Fake News is Impacting Society

We summarize Pizzagate and why this isn't the first time people have believed this kind of thing.

December 13, 2016

As we go farther as a human race and evolve, we create more innovative things that benefit us all. One of these things happen to be the internet. We use it to publish stories here, you the reader are using it to read this article. However, with every good comes an evil. In recent years, fake news has become a large scale problem with even lives being endangered simply because someone shares a chain mail that seemed true.


Recently, Edgar Welch, a North Carolinian resident, drove all the way to Washington D.C to rescue what he assumed were sexually abused children from a pizza restaurant called Comet Ping. What was his plan? Investigating along side his assault-rifle. In the restaurant, he let off a round and began to search the Comet Ping top to bottom only to find out his sources of information were incorrect: The Comet Ping had no such children in their clutches.

What was it that inspired such a dramatic and aggressive attack on some place such as a pizza restaurant? It all started with a post. What began on 4chan, then posted to Reddit, where several people saw and began to conspire and dig up false evidence against Comet Ping.

On November 4, 2016 a Reddit user published a thread titled “Comet Ping Pong – Pizzagate Summary.” In the thread was a detailed conspiracy theory inspired by Wikileaks’ email breaches. It went into great dept in how the Hillary Campaign was behind a pedophilia trafficking ring ran by the pizzeria owner. It went so far, Snopes had to confirm that is was indeed false. But even then, this hasn’t convinced several speculators, including Welch.

The Big Picture

This is not the first time something like this has occurred. July 24, 2016, it was speculated that Marina Joyce, a youtube vlogger, was kidnapped by ISIS and forced to make youtube videos. The rumor went so far to the point Marina’s local police has had to investigate, and even after the event has had to deal with a large amount of phone calls questioning her safety.

When it comes down to these cyber sleuths, the issue is that people take them seriously regardless of credibility. Even then, people can have the tendency to not only blow it out of proportion, but also runs the risk . For example, during Pizzagate, one of Donald Trump’s transitional team members re-tweeted the conspiracy, implying it was real and furthering suspicion from the public. He was later fired, but this is a good example in how a bloated theory can lead to false information being spread and taken seriously. This causes fear mongering which causes a snowball effect which creates huge messes like the Comet Ping shooting.


At this point in time, it’s become somewhat obvious what, how, and why fake news effects people: it makes people who report real news look questionable, people believe it quickly, and there’s a variety of reactions anyone can give. That’s why it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure people can know the difference between fake and real, right and wrong.

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