Facebook and Google promote politicized fake news about Las Vegas shooter

Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest0Share on Reddit0

Of rightwing Sites, Asserting the shooter was an anti-Trump liberal, on to mainstream platforms, the spread is the Most Recent example of

Facebook and Google encouraged false news stories claiming that the shooter who killed more than 50 people at Las Vegas was a Democrat who opposed Donald Trump. The misidentification spread rapidly from dark corners of the internet to mainstream platforms only hours after hundreds were hurt at a festival close to the Mandalay Bay casino, the most recent example of fake news polluting social media amid a breaking news story.

The circulation of misinformation on Monday exemplified a particularly grim trend that has dominated viral online propaganda hyper-partisan trolls battling to blame the tragedy.

Authorities have identified Stephen Paddock as the suspect who opened fire from a high-rise hotel room, killing scores and injuring hundreds more. But before the 64-year-old Nevada man was called by authorities, the man was identified by some on the far right behind the most bizarre mass shooting in US history that was contemporary since Geary Danley. It’s unclear the hoax originated, but rightwing users aggressively encouraged his name, seizing that he was a liberal.

About 4chan, the anonymous message board along with a favorite platform of this “alt-right”, some noticed that Danley was a enrolled Democrat. Soon afterwards, Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy-laden blog that earned White House credentials under Trump, printed an evidence-free story headlined, “Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army”. The piece was based on a review of Facebook “likes”.

Play Video

‘People began dropping around us’: Las Vegas shooting advised by witnesses – movie record

in spite of the fact that the claims have been unproven and coming from non-credible sources, Facebook’s “Safety Check” page, that is supposed to help people connect with loved ones throughout the crisis, ended up briefly promoting a story that said the shooter had “Trump-hating” viewpoints, along with links to quite a few other hoaxes and scams, according to screenshots. At exactly the same time, Google users who searched Geary Danley’s name were at one stage directed to the 4chan thread filled with bogus promises.

The users’ powerful manipulation of media algorithms to politicize a tragedy speaks to some blueprint of online abuse. While users of Twitter and Reddit memorably misidentified the suspect behind the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, fake news during international tragedies and terrorist attacks during the previous year has increasingly gone past insufficient reporting and retweeting to blatant manipulation and targeted disinformation campaigns.

“It’s becoming more polarized. There is this mad scramble to paint the guy as a Democrat or a Republican, so they could cheer,” Brooke Binkowski, managing editor of fact-checking website Snopes.com, said in an interview. “A great deal of this is pushed by trolls deliberately to muddy the conversation.”

False content can quickly move from social media to legitimate news sources, she added: “People are putting out crap information on purpose … It’s quite simple to get shit in the news cycle simply by being on Twitter.”

While authorities have fought to recognize the possible motives of Paddock, the suspect who authorities believe killed himself, some far-right users and conspiracy theorists have, with no evidence, attempted to link him to anti-fascist groups along with the leftist Antifa movement. Infowars, the hyper-partisan site famous for propaganda, maintained on Monday that Paddock was discovered with “antifa literature”. At precisely the same time, a sham Facebook page faking to be Antifa claimed responsibility for the attack, stating the objective of the shooter was to murder “Trump supporting fascist dogs”.

A YouTube user also pushed an unsubstantiated rumor that the suspect was a Hillary Clinton supporter.

On the flipside, some conservatives on Twitter have speculated that leftwing social media users have attempted to falsely paint Paddock as a rightwing individual. Some have theorized that liberals following a Twitter account that has the same name as the suspect and are posing as Trump supporters and white nationalists, in hopes of demonstrating he is a conservative.

In fact, the suspect had no famous “affiliations” that may clarify the massacre, according to among the brothers, who spoke out on Monday.

Donald Trump makes comments at the White House on the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Google, Facebook and Twitter have confronted repeated accusations that they enable propaganda to spread on their websites along with reach large audiences, and in the wake of embarrassing stories of promoting fake news and offensive articles, the tech companies have typically blamed their algorithms and offered vague pledges of improvement.

The Mandalay Bay shooting was no exception. Google said in a statement: “Unfortunately, early this morning we had been briefly surfacing an erroneous 4chan website in our hunt results for a few queries. Within hours, outcomes that were relevant replaced the 4chan story. This shouldn’t have seemed for any questions, and we’ll continue to make algorithmic improvements to stop this from happening in the future.”

Facebook attempted to downplay its role in promoting false stories, saying in a statement: “Our Global Security Operations Center spotted these articles this morning and we’ve removed them. However, their removal was delayed, permitting them to be display circulated and captured online. We are working to repair the problem that enabled this to take place in the first place and profoundly regret the confusion this caused.”

Binkowski noted that the online debates about political affiliations of this suspect divert from meaningful policy talks about gun control.

“People would rather debate if the mass shooter is a Republican or Democrat … than address structural issues,” she explained.

Past the fake news that was charged, social media was clouded by a vast range of reporting on Monday. A number of viral tweets posted fake accounts of missing victims, according to BuzzFeed.

Some celebrities were quick before authorities had offered any official confirmation of the facts of this shooting, to spread unverified claims. Sia, a pop singer and songwriter with 3.2 million followers on Twitter, posted that 20 people were dead until authorities had published details on the amount of casualties, including, “take cover there are numerous shooters on the loose”.

Authorities have said there were no other suspects.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest0Share on Reddit0