"Pizzagate" is a debunked conspiracy theory that went viral during the 2016 United States presidential election cycle. It has been extensively discredited by a wide range of organizations, including the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.
In March 2016, the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack. WikiLeaks published his emails in November 2016. Proponents of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory falsely claimed the emails contained coded messages that connected several U.S. restaurants and high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party with an alleged human trafficking and child sex ring. One of the establishments allegedly involved was the Comet Ping Pong restaurant and pizzeria 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. In response, a man from North Carolina traveled to Comet Ping Pong to investigate the conspiracy and fired a rifle inside the restaurant. The restaurant owner and staff also received death threats from conspiracy theorists.