Pizzagate’s days in the limelight are waning. Even Edgar Welch—the 28-year-old who entered Comet Ping Pong armed with several firearms to “investigate” the made-up child trafficking claims—has hardly been in the news lately. So it came time for Pizzagate’s trolls and true believers to invent a new conspiracy. And boy, is it ever dumb.
The theory hinges on the supposed misdeeds of two content-saving services, Archive.is and Slimgur. In short, those advocating the Pizzagate conspiracy theory are now accusing two of their most trusted online services of undermining their investigation because they’re getting too close to “the truth.”
First, a bit of background: Archive.is is similar to the Wayback Machine—it’s a means of saving a snapshot of a webpage at a specific time, and favored heavily on sites like 4chan where threads can disappear quickly. Slimgur, on the other hand, was built because members of the long-since banned Reddit community r/fatpeoplehate thought that Imgur, the gold standard in image sharing services, was too restrictive. In response, they built a knockoff that doesn’t delete content intended to incite hatred.
The new theory claims that these two internet archiving services are responsible for deleting Pizzagate-related content. This, of course, means that Pizzagate must be true, because why else would anyone seek to pour this “evidence” down the memory hole?
This laughable game of thread telephone started innocently enough on Reddit knockoff Voat (where r/Pizzagate and r/fatpeoplehate fled after being banned). A few were unassuming threads on both the Slimgur community and on fatpeoplehate asked why Slimgur appeared to be down. Once the service outage was noticed by Voat’s Pizzagaters, a lapse was instantly upgraded to an “attack.” Pizzagaters also claimed that Archive.is was in cahoots with whoever was trying to discredit the theory that career politician Hillary Clinton runs a child sex-trafficking ring out of a pizzeria.
It’s worth noting that every Pizzagate page I attempted to view through Archive.is was in perfect working order at the time of this writing—though a few were apparently inaccessible for a short time.
Reddit’s infamous Trump community r/the_donald further wrung “a website is down” into the dribbling supposition that “Archive.is and sli.mg are removing all Pizzagate related links,” while the subreddit KotakuInAction—a hub for GamerGate—cried “censorship.” When shared by an administrator within Centipede Central—the 6,000-strong Trump room on chat client Discord—it was somehow determined that “they” were “planning something” and that both sites were down.
But here’s the catch: When reached for comment, Archive.is’s webmaster told Gizmodo that these increasingly hyperbolic threads might have been an elaborate attempt to drum up controversy where none existed.
“[A few pages] were temporarily hidden [because they were] mistakenly classified as spam,” the webmaster wrote in an email to Gizmodo. “That spam report [was] received from [someone] who claims to be a Voat admin, so what is happening now could be carefully planned.” He or she attached a redacted email exchange showing how this was possible. The handful of pages that were affected on Archive.is were functioning normally by the time the “news” was shared to Centipede Central.
How many of the creators of these threads—if any—were in on the plan, and how many just wanted some juicy controversy to post without taking half a second to investigate? It’s not clear, and probably never will be. But then again, seeing patterns and nefarious intent where none exist—like a broken website or a few emails discussing a common food item—is a beloved past time among the internet’s most gullible users.
Gizmodo has reached out to the creators of Slimgur and will update if we receive a response.