Some of the same people who pushed a false conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton that first emerged in 2016 are now targeting Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, with similar falsehoods, NBC News reports.
The rumors, which emerged from the fringes of the internet and can be traced to associates of former White House aide Steve Bannon, echo specific plot points central to "pizzagate," a viral disinformation campaign that predates QAnon but also falsely alleges a vast conspiracy of child abuse.
But unlike the pizzagate-style rumors in 2016 that were largely confined to far-right message boards like 4chan and parts of Reddit, the Hunter Biden iteration of the same conspiracy theory took off last weekend with the help of of speculation from conservative TV hosts and members of Congress.
The disinformation campaign appears to have been successful in its goal of generating a smear against the former vice president's son. According to Google Trends, "human trafficking" is now the third-most common related search term for "Hunter Biden" in the last year, after "laptop" and "New York Post," which point to search interest around the unconfirmed allegations that a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden contained evidence of crimes.
NBC News requested a copy of the hard drive, but Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, who had possession of the hard drive, has yet to respond. The New York Post article did not include any of the child abuse rumors.
Read the full story on NBCNews.com.