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- There is no evidence to support this claim.
On Oct. 7, 2016, WikiLeaks published the hacked emails of John Podesta, then the campaign chairman for former Secretary of State and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But a recent Facebook post acknowledging the occasion repeats an unfounded conspiracy theory about Clinton and her allies.
"Tomorrow is the four year anniversary of the release of the Podesta E-Mails which revealed that Hillary Clinton & pals are involved in sex trafficking children," the Oct. 6 post says.
It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
There is no evidence to support the allegation that Clinton and Podesta were involved in sex-trafficking children, or that there’s a child sex-trafficking ring.
The claim stems from an email exchange about a fundraiser at Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., in September 2008, when Barack Obama was seeking the presidential nomination. People started to peddle the baseless idea that Podesta’s use of the word "pizza" was code for pedophilia, and that Comet Ping Pong had secret rooms where Clinton and confidantes kidnapped and imprisoned children to be sexually abused, tortured, or sacrificed for Satan. Believers started to refer to the conspiracy theory as Pizzagate.
In November 2016, BuzzFeed News published a story investigating how the theory spread. Its origins don’t inspire much confidence: a random Twitter account and an anonymous user in the online forum 4chan claimed that police sources said the Clintons were about to be brought down massive sex trafficking scandal. A conspiracy theorist who piggybacked on these claims and said evidence of a "pedophile sex ring" had emerged.
The theory has spawned other misinformation. We’ve looked into claims that the FBI confirmed evidence of a "huge underground Clinton sex network," that Clinton was on trial for allegedly torturing and killing a 10-year-old girl on camera, that an explosion in Beirut over the summer was linked to human trafficking by Clinton — they’re all false.
Four years since Pizzagate became a well-known word, there is still not evidence to back up the idea that Clinton is sex-trafficking children.
We rate this post Pants on Fire.
Facebook post, Oct. 6, 2020
WikiLeaks, The Podesta Emails, visited Oct. 7, 2020
PolitiFact, It’s True: WikiLeaks dumped Podesta emails after Trump video surfaced, Dec. 18, 2016
PolitiFact, How Pizzagate went from fake news to a real problem for a D.C. business, Dec. 5, 2016
BuzzFeed News, How the bizarre conspiracy theory behind "Pizzagate" was spread, Nov. 4, 2016
PolitiFact, Evidence ridiculously thin for sensational underground Clinton sex network, Nov. 4, 2016
PolitiFact, No, Hillary Clinton is not on trial for the murder of a 10-year-old girl, July 13, 2020
PolitiFact, Pizzagate conspiracy theorists spread false claims about Beirut explosion, human trafficking, Aug. 7, 2020
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