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Evaluating News: "Fake News" and Beyond: Case Study: Pizzagate

Pizzagate: When Fake News Gets Real

Pizzagate is a far-right conspiracy theory purportedly linking the Clintons, other prominent Democrats, and their associates to a child sex-trafficking ring run out of the Washington, D.C. pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong.  Begun on 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, which are anonymous message boards, this fake news story eventually made it off these discussion forums to Facebook and Twitter.  

From October 29th when the story first appeared on Facebook to December 4th when Edgar Maddison Welch entered Comet Ping with an AR-15 to "investigate," the story was shared via Twitter "roughly 1.4 million times by more than a quarter of a million accounts" and promulgated by various right-wing media outlets. 

Pizzagate: Timeline

Pizzagate Timeline

Pizzagate: Anatomy of a Fake News Scandal

Amanda Robb's Rolling Stone article, "Pizzagate: Anatomy of a Fake News Scandal," was the source for information in the "Pizzagate: Timeline" posted on this guide.  Robb partnered with The Investigative Fund and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting to produce the article.

It is available on the web at the following url:

It is also available in Lakeland's databases:

Robb, Amanda. "Anatomy of a Fake-News Scandal." Rolling Stone, no. 1301, 30 Nov. 2017, pp. 28-33. Academic Search Complete.

Pizzagate Resources

Questions for Analysis of Fake News

How did you find the source? Did you actively search for the source or did it show up on social media?  If you searched, how and where did you search?  If it showed up in your social media or on a webpage, was it promoted or sponsored content?

Where did the information/source you're looking at come from? Who is responsible for it?

If you can find an About page, read the information provided there.  What is the mission or purpose of the organization or individual responsible for the information in the source?

Does the source appear to be hyper-partisan or extremely biased?  Look at the language being used, and give examples to support your point. 

What kind of claims are made in the source?  Are they supported with references?  Are the references from credible sources?  How did you determine their credibility? Can you access the sources used as references?

How could/did you corroborate the information in the source?  How did you determine whether the information in the source was reliable or not?


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