Imagine that you have owned a family-friendly pizza restaurant for about a decade in an upscale northwest Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Suddenly, without warning, you're getting slimed by sickos on the Internet with death threats and obscenities.
What would you do?
There's wasn't much James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong, could do when threatening messages began to appear on his Instagram feed in late October and grew into hundreds through texts, Facebook, Twitter and telephone calls.
The furor was based on a lie, a breathtakingly false allegation of a child sex abuse ring supposedly led by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John Podesta.
There was, you may recall, a presidential election coming up.
Conspiracy theories have percolated constantly against the Clintons, among other famous and powerful people. The longer they're around, the more bizarre the narratives have become, particularly in the Internet's busy hives of fake news.