Pizzagate is a debunked conspiracy theory that went viral during the 2016 United States presidential election cycle. The conspiracy theory has been extensively discredited by a wide array of organizations, including the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.
In March of 2016, the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack, and his emails were later made public by WikiLeaks in November of 2016. Proponents of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory falsely claimed that the emails contained coded messages referring to human trafficking and connecting several U.S. restaurants and high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party with an alleged child sex ring involving the restaurant and pizzeria Comet Ping Pong, located in Washington, D.C.
Members of the alt-right and other opponents of Clinton's presidential campaign spread the conspiracy theory on social media outlets such as 4chan, 8chan, and Twitter. A man from North Carolina traveled to Comet Ping Pong to investigate this conspiracy, during which he fired a rifle inside the restaurant. In addition to this, the restaurant owner and staff received death threats from believers of the conspiracy theory.