Since being featured in a viral fake news story about Hillary Clinton, the owner of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant said the threats he and his business have received are “endless.”
A fake story published before the presidential election accused the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, of being part of a child abuse ring led by Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta, the New York Times reported. The entire story was false.
But in the weeks since the story appeared, restaurant owner James Alefantis has received hundreds of threatening messages and phone calls from people who believed the story to be true.
“From this insane, fabricated conspiracy theory, we’ve come under constant assault,” Alefantis told the Times. “I’ve done nothing for days but try to clean this up and protect my staff and friends from being terrorized.”
The prevalence of fake news on the internet has recently been hotly debated, amid questions about whether the spread of fake news stories might have helped Donald Trump win the presidential election.
Alefantis was a Clinton supporter, but he said he has never met her. The speculation about Comet Ping Pong began when Alefantis appeared in an email to Podesta, discussing a fundraiser for Clinton, the Times reported. Podesta’s email account was hacked and published by WikiLeaks in the months leading up to the election.
The conspiracy theory, dubbed “Pizzagate,” has continued to spread among adamant believers online.
“It’s endless,” Alefantis said.