One of the most deleterious types of behavior is subtle sabotage. This is the art of the insecure, jealous, often vindictive person planting a false idea or narrative about someone to create distractive diversion, shifting attention away from the true problem (often the accuser) in favor of a fabricated one (an issue with the accused) - which then takes on its own life. It is a method meant to silence, retaliate against, and try to one-up a potentially powerful individual, a perceived threat to the planter and his or her clique because of the real possibility that the accused might be better, more qualified, more successful, more authentic. It is lying to tear someone down, and it works because people build themselves up with destructive gossip and believe the first thing they hear.
It can be a subtle jab or an outright accusation, but it is always a falsehood without context meant to do the maximum damage up front before the victim knows it by putting an implication of a problem into the universe. The falsehood, often a fabrication, an escalation, or an exaggeration, is given "innocently" to interested third-parties who accept it willingly because it will serve a purpose of consolidating their own power, prestige and control. In pre-emptively striking first with a corrosive falsehood, the accuser ensures that the victim will be on the defensive when the news eventually reaches him or her. The accused will then face an uphill battle to set the record straight because the reputational damage is done.
This sabotage is a frighteningly, rampantly-used mechanism. We see it everywhere, big and little accusations launched to try to maim and stymie others, no context given, no presumption of innocence until proven guilty with fact. But this - fact - is the way to counter such behavior, to consistently proffer the documented truth, and to insist on discussing it comprehensively to hold egregious accusers accountable. We need to be aware of this manifestation of behavior because it creates false ideas about decent people, and creates unnecessary work in needing to "handle" a fake issue. Some people choose to create and live in these worlds of fake issues, but it isn't the right course. At the end of it all, it is indisputable that we - in physical form - only have limited time on earth. Why spend it in misery outside of the truth?