In 2016, fake news was spread across the internet reaching a particular demographic through Facebook. Government agencies, such as the CIA have publicly said that this was done by Russia in an attempt to put Donald Trump in the White House.
Fake News Or Real Life?
Wait. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, this actually happened in real life! In December of 2016, the CIA concluded that Russia purposely acted to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances to win the presidency. This has caused Trump to publicly criticize the CIA, which is unprecedented in terms of Presidents. What a world we are living in! Well, on to some actual conspiracies that are in the same vein.
Pizza Parlor Pedophilia
One crazy theory was that a pizza parlor located in Washington D.C. was actually a front for a child sex ring which the Democratic party was somehow tied to. This all started when Wikileaks released emails after the apparent Russian hacking of the DNC (Democratic National Campaign).
More specifically, this stemmed from emails from John Podesta who was Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Chairman during her 2016 bid for the presidency. The website 4chan latched on to the emails where he was discussing pizza and decided pizza was actually code for pedophilia. The rumor spread from 4chan to Reddit, and in the dark depths of those message boards is where it really took off in a subreddit called “The Donald” for Trump supporters.
The theory was referred to as “Pizzagate,” and they later linked a local pizza parlor to the theory. Comet Ping Pong, the Washington eatery, was connected to Pizzagate because the owner, James Alefantis, used to date David Brock who was the head of a pro-Clinton group. Podesta knew Brock and Alefantis and had eaten pizza at the restaurant so the internet rumor propagators believed they were all in on this “scandal.”
One man from South Carolina, Edgar Welch, drove to Washington D.C. to “investigate” the claims. He ended up firing an assault rifle inside Comet Ping Pong, and later surrendered when he discovered no children being hidden inside. In an interview with the New York Times, Welch, sitting in his jail cell, has now said he regrets how he handled the situation.
Although this has clearly been proven to be false, people across the internet are still clinging to the belief that it is somehow true. Those who believe this weird, completely unfounded rumor include the son of incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn. It is disturbing how easy it is to find people to believe fake stories. Apparently, they do not know how to fact check or do research about sources. In the meantime, the pizza parlor has been forced to hire more security and there have been constant barrages such as insults across social media platforms all over the internet.
Says owner James Alefantis, “What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences. I hope that those involved in fanning those flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away.” For the sake of the safety of those involved let’s hope it ceases before someone ends up hurt in REAL life.
Mexican Refugees Are Murderers & Rapists
Donald Trump publicly stated that Mexico was sending criminals, specifically “murderers and rapists.” When questioned, Trump’s team pointed to data that doesn’t actually exist. According to the Washington Post, the data that does exist actually suggests the opposite.
Deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute (a non-partisan think tank) said, “Immigrants in general — unauthorized immigrants in particular — are a self-selected group who generally come to the U.S. to work. And once they’re here, most of them want to keep their nose down and do their business, and they’re sensitive to the fact that they’re vulnerable.” In a current world where racial tensions are at a high, spreading harmful rumors about a race or ethnicity is certainly a dangerous one! Let’s hope no one gets hurt over this rumor.
Ted Cruz’s Father Assassinated Kennedy
In May of 2016, Donald Trump publicly stated that Ted Cruz’s father Rafael was with Lee Harvey Oswald previous to his assassination of President John F. Kennedy and that he likely had a hand in the assassination as well. What? Trump’s source was apparently the National Enquirer which published photos which purported to show Rafael Cruz with Lee Harvey Oswald.
In a phone call with Fox News, Trump said, “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it. I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
Trump and Cruz Continue To Fight
While Ted and Rafael Cruz both deny the idea that Rafael could have assassinated Kennedy, and while the Cuban immigrant was living in the U.S. at the time, it still seems like a pretty far-fetched story. Trump also insulted Ted Cruz’s wife’s appearance and also suggested that Cruz is not fit to serve because he was born in Canada to an American citizen.
This wouldn’t be the first time Donald started a “birther” rumor; remember the birth certificate debacle with Obama? On the campaign trail, Cruz said, “It’s not easy to tick me off. I don’t get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that’ll do it every time. Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.” Trump and Cruz continued to trade barbs throughout the election. Eventually, in an interesting turn of cowardly events, Cruz did give Trump his endorsement.
Sandy Hook “Truthers”
If the horrible tragedy of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, in which shooter Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 first-grade students wasn’t bad enough, truthers have certainly made it worse.
There are people across the internet propped up by sites like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars and message board Godlike Productions that have started the rumor that Sandy Hook was fake and never actually happened. Even worse, they claim all the photos of the victims are of alleged actors. Wow! Could this story get any worse? As if the parents of these poor children haven’t suffered enough?
Threatening Sandy Hook Parents
In December of 2016, a woman named Lucy Richards was arrested for threatening a Sandy Hook parent by the name of Len Pozner. Pozner’s son Noah was one of the first children killed in the Sandy Hook attack. Richards left messages on Pozner’s phone saying saying, “You gonna die, death is coming to you real soon, death is coming to you real soon and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Disgusting! It is absolutely horrible that people who have lost their children in such a horrific way have to be subjected to such insanity and cruelty! Hopefully, Richards arrest opened her eyes or at the very least will stop the harassment. And hopefully, we as a society will soon figure out a way to teach people how to critically think, fact check, and assess sources for reliability.
Syrian Refugees Attacking
Syria is in the midst of a massive humanitarian crisis, with more and more innocent civilians being killed every day. Many are fleeing their country merely to survive, and yet in many places (including the United States) they are met with fear rather than open arms. Many conspiracy sites have started to claim that the Syrian Refugee Crisis is a Trojan horse and that ISIS members are posing as refugees in order to gain access to the United States and commit terrorist attacks here.
Of course, if you take a look at the work of any reliable journalist who is currently stationed in Syria, you will see that the crisis there is very real and people are losing their lives in bloody attacks almost daily. What human wouldn’t want to flee with their family to try and survive? There have been no proven connection between Syrian refugees to ISIS and there likely isn’t to be. Check your sources, people.
Conspiracy websites have long said that WWIII is on the horizon, and the year 2016 was no different. This year, conspiracy theorists have said that the United States will soon go to war with either China or Russia. The country being fought seems to change regularly.
However, these sites also often claim that the war will only be a front to detract from economic collapse or income inequality. These same rumors have persisted throughout years and during the terms of multiple presidents so it’s highly unlikely at this point. Although, as mentioned previously, it has been proven that Russia did attempt to sway a United States presidential election, so we would find that issue a bit more pressing.
From My Cold Dead Hands
The NRA has stated that the Obama Administration is trying to make the biggest “gun grab” in history. What the Administration has actually suggested is that Social Security recipients who lack the mental capacity to manage their own disability payments will be banned from owning guns.
This is directly tied to the response post-Sandy Hook, in order to attempt to prevent mentally ill people from owning guns. Which, you know, sounds like a pretty good idea! If Australia and the United Kingdom have proved anything, it’s that the harder it is to own guns the less gun violence there will be. Perhaps one day the United States will follow suit. But maybe not. Too many people in the United States seem to like gun violence.
This rumor is another one that has swirled around for decades but has gotten another push under the Obama Administration. The theories typically say that martial law will be declared to take control of the people and that they will be sent off to FEMA camps. Obviously, this has not happened yet. Even though theorists have been claiming it will for eight years now.
Although, Donald Trump has said that he will make Muslim Americans be entered onto a registry. One of his supporters, Carl Higbie, who was a leader of one of the major SuperPacs in support of Trump, said that Muslim’s should be kept in WWII style Japanese Internment camps. Hopefully, this horrific comment will turn out to be just a comment and not what will really happen in the future.
Global Economic Collapse
Long has the conspiracy theory existed that says we are going to face a global economic crisis. This conspiracy existed even before 2012, and the “Doomsday” conspiracy theory. Remember that one? Again, 2016 is no different. Rumors swirl that the economy will fail and plunge the entire world into mass hysteria.
Conspiracy theorists suggest that reasons for economic disaster will be because there will be war, the federal reserve is falsely propping up the United States’ money supply, and money is being printed with no actual currency to back it up. Of course, conspiracy sites suggest that you stock up on supplies like canned food and maybe even build your own underground bunker. Given Trump’s questionable stance on nuclear weapons, perhaps building a doomsday bunker is such a crazy idea after all!
Donald Trump Is a Democratic Plant
Many from both sides of the political spectrum couldn’t believe that Donald Trump was running for office. Some even suggested that he was a democratic plant sent to sabotage the Republican party. Many pointed to such things as his criticism of John McCain, stating that he was a hero because he was a prisoner of war.
Trump said, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Others point to his former friendship with Hillary and Bill Clinton, although Bill has said they weren’t that close, they were definitely photographed together. Trump even complimented Hillary in the past.
Another conspiracy circulating the web is something called “Agenda 21.” Allegedly, Agenda 21 is a program run by the United Nations which aims to bring the entire world population under the control of an elite few. People claim one of the ways to maintain control is through killing a large amount of the human population.
Yes, people seriously believe this. Some claim it will be through tainted vaccines, death camps, and even that ISIS plans to kill 90% of Americans through an EMP (electromagnetic pulse weapon) attack. As this isn’t the first year that such rumors have circulated, it’s more than likely more fear-mongering which does nothing more than scare people!
US Funding ISIS
Alex Jones’ site InfoWars is currently circulating the conspiracy theory that the United States is actually funding the terrorist group ISIS. And further, they say that ISIS was actually trained by the United States. Interestingly this exact same rumor existed about Osama Bin Laden, who conspiracy theorists also believed to be a CIA operative.
Perhaps it’s just another recycled theory or maybe these theorists are running out of material. Did you know that some people also claim that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is a disinformation agent controlled by either the CIA or the FBI to spread fake information to the people to distract them from what’s really going on? Wow, a conspiracy about a conspiracy theorist! What’s next?
Hillary Caused ISIS
During Donald Trump’s interview on60 Minutes, he claimed that Hillary Clinton created ISIS. More specifically he said, “Hillary Clinton invented ISIS with her stupid policies. She is responsible for ISIS.” While Donald seemingly had fun spreading this theory around, the origins are false. The terror group actually pre-dates Obama and her role as Secretary of State.
While the group has been known by several different names over the years, they have been using ISIS for some time. The group is thought to have originated in the late 1990s. Spreading these conspiracy theories does nothing to help with the fact that these terror groups are doing just that, terrorizing people around the world. Let’s hope at some point the blame will end, and the group can actually be stopped.
Ted Cruz Is the Zodiac Killer
While this fake conspiracy theory originated as a meme (i.e. a joke) many around the internet actually seemed to pay more heed to it than they should. While the Zodiac Killer was an actual serial killer who murdered multiple people in a series of murders in California in the 1960s and 1970s, this rumor was obviously FALSE.
Ted Cruz wasn’t born until 1970 so unless that is a lie and he’s actually much older than he claims there is no way he could have committed the zodiac murders! Because this one was started as a joke, it’s a bit scary that there are people who actually believe it.
There is a new illness on the forefront, keeping up with the times. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is defined by an allergy or sensitivity to electromagnetic signals. However, many medical professionals believe symptoms of supposed EHS sufferers are psychological in origin. In 2015, a French court even ruled a woman could receive disability benefits due to EHS.
Allegedly EHS presents as a multitude of symptoms including headaches, mood swings, and skin problems. While it’s interesting to consider that within the current world we are constantly surrounded by electromagnetic and WiFi signals, doctors say that psychotherapy is the treatment necessary as opposed to any kind of medical treatment. Would you go without your WiFi?
Door to-Door Gun Collection
In October of 2016, known right-wing publication The Free Patriot posted an article that was widely believed and shared on social media. Titled “U.N. Says They Will Soon Occupy America Under Hillary: Going Door-to-Door Taking Guns,” the article contained photos of a marching military and claimed that a man they called just “an everyday average Joe” encountered a UN employee at a bar who shared this information with him.
“[He] felt compelled that he needed to say something, just to let such good people know what is coming. He said that they were going to be going door-to-door taking guns, or shooting to kill. They already had the lists of names, and addresses.” The claim was that if Hillary Clinton won the upcoming election, this door-to-door weapons collection would be imminent.