Gunman in D.C. Pizzeria Shows How Dangerous Fake News Can Be

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It's not uncommon to see fiction that's "inspired by true events," but Sunday in Washington, D.C., a true story was inspired by a fake one.

A man with a gun walked into the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria and fired at least one shot in the air.  He told police afterward that Hillary Clinton was involved in a child sex-trafficking ring operating there, according to something he had read on the internet.

That, of course, was fake news.  But the man decided to "self-investigate."

Listen: when people say not to believe everything you read online, that's not the kind of research you're supposed to do.

These days, though, knowing what news is real is easier said than done.

"More and more with the internet now, it's kind of hard to tell which ones are legitimate journalist sites, and which ones are fake," said Kelton Hutcherson.  "They're presenting themselves out as true news."

Hutcherson is an attorney who specializes in internet law.  He says free speech won't protect fake news sites from defamation lawsuits in cases like this.

"And I think that is going to be the check that's going to reign that in eventually," Hutcherson said.

But until then, it's up to each of us to decide what to believe.

"Take that step back," said Ross Teemant. "And say, 'Ya know, am I really willing to get so tied into this news story that it's going to affect me?'"

Teemant, who leads the behavioral health services department at Texas Health Resources, also reminds us to keep an eye on our own mental health.

"When these events and these news stories, and these communications that are out there are affecting our ability to process our everyday activities," Teemant said, "We need to seek help."

And the time to get that help?  Might be before you start firing a gun in a pizza place.  Just sayin'.