Clinton with Podesta Alex Wong/Getty Images

Redefreiheit und gefakte Nachrichten

PRINCETON – Etwa eine Woche vor den US-Präsidentschaftswahlen im vergangenen November postete jemand auf Twitter, dass Hillary Clinton im Mittelpunkt eines Pädophilenrings stünde. Das Gerücht verbreitete sich über die sozialen Medien, und ein rechtsgerichteter Talkmaster namens Alex Jones erklärte wiederholt, dass Clinton an Kindesmissbrauch beteiligt sei und dass der Chef ihres Wahlkampfteams, John Podesta, an satanistischen Ritualen teilnehme. In einem (inzwischen gelöschten) YouTube-Video verwies Jones auf „all die Kinder, die Hillary Clinton persönlich ermordet, zerstückelt und vergewaltigt hat“. Das vier Tage vor dem Wahltermin gepostete Video wurde mehr als 400.000 aufgerufen.

Von WikiLeaks veröffentlichte E-Mails zeigten, dass Podesta manchmal in einer Washingtoner Pizzeria mit Namen Comet Ping Pong zu Abend aß. Wohl deshalb konzentrierten sich die Kindersex-Anschuldigungen auf diese Pizzeria und verwendeten dabei das Hashtag #pizzagate. Die Anschuldigungen wurden immer wieder durch sogenannte „Bots“ – Programme, die für die Verbreitung bestimmter Arten von Nachrichten konzipiert sind – auf Twitter weitergeleitet, was zu dem Eindruck betrug, dass viele Menschen „Pizzagate“ ernst nähmen. Erstaunlicherweise wurde die Geschichte sogar von General Michael Flynn, dem kommenden nationalen Sicherheitsberater des designierten Präsidenten Donald Trump, auf Twitter weiterverbreitet.

Selbst nach Trumps Wahlsieg – und obwohl sie von der New York Times und der Washington Post als unwahr entlarvt worden war – verbreitete sich die Geschichte weiter. Comet Ping Pong wurde durch ständige beleidigende und häufig mit Drohungen verbundene Telefonanrufe schikaniert. Als der Geschäftsführer sich an die Washingtoner Polizei wandte, erklärte man ihm dort, dass die Gerüchte unter den Schutz der Redefreiheit der Verfassung fielen.

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