Facebook activates safety check after 50 killed in Las Vegas shooting
- Author: Gina Adkins Oct 03, 2017,
Oct 03, 2017, 7:59
The search results below the top stories did little to help clarify the situation. Facebook's "Safety Check" feature confronted users with far-right blogs that spat out false information about victims and the shooter.
But before the police confirmation, right-wing media sites and social media users were quick to pick up and spread the 4chan conspiracy theory misidentifying Geary Danley as the shooter.
A Twitter spokeswoman on Monday pointed to a June blog post from Colin Crowell, Twitter's vice president of public policy, government and philanthropy when asked about the false tweets cropping up on the social network.
Authorities have since identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, 64, who was later found dead in a hotel room on the Strip.
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A 4chan message board about the Las Vegas shooting rocketed to the top of Google's Top Stories, a tool meant to draw a clearer distinction between that product and Google News, which is vetted by humans.
However, 4chan users on /pol-a forum known for its distaste of politically correct culture often attributed to liberalism-quickly picked up on the interests of Geary Danley as indicated by his Facebook like, many of which identified him as a liberal.
The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website, published a story declaring that the person 4chan had named was the culprit. Anyone who searched Google for the name of the person wrongly identified would see among the top results links to the websites that carried the false claim.
Just days before the horrific events in Las Vegas unfolded, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used his platform to post a Yom Kippur status apologizing for the site's role in spreading "fake news" and unknowingly selling ads to Russian-controlled accounts that may or may not have sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
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And for a time on Monday morning, one of those 4chan threads falsely naming Danley as the shooter was promoted by Google as a "top story" for searches for his name, as one BuzzFeed reporter noticed. "We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen", the Facebook representative told CNN.
A few hours later, searches for the same name were showing articles debunking the 4chan post and cataloguing the trail of viral fake news after the shooting.
- Danley is a former "high-limit hostess" at a Las Vegas casino.
"This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make algorithmic improvements to prevent this from happening in the future", Google said.
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