How Facebook and Google spread false information about Las Vegas shooter

04 October, 2017, 00:30 | Author: Yolanda Murray
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Google search results related to the name of the man wrongly identified as the killer prominently displayed a post from the online forum 4chan - where users were asserting links between him and the Democrats and left-wing political news websites. Millions of concerned people, some potentially with family members affected by the shooting, likely Googled or searched on Twitter and Facebook for scraps of information in the hours after the attack.

After news outlets pointed out false reports from the 4chan message board were appearing at the top of Google search results, the internet giant said it acted to correct the problem.

The false identification of Danley as the suspected shooter wasn't the only hoax that spread overnight Sunday into Monday morning.

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"This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make improvements to prevent this from happening in the future". The Crisis Response Page can also be used to offer help and create fundraising efforts.

The incident highlights yet again how news and social-media algorithms created to help surface the best information can fall short in the hours after a major incident, when few factual details are readily available because authorities have yet to confirm or release them. "However, its removal was delayed by a few minutes, allowing it to be screen captured and circulated online", the firm told Fast Company. These included false accounts of missing victims using photos of different people including porn star Johnny Sins, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and former Vine star Lil Terio among others.

The rampant dissemination of misinformation comes as Facebook, Google and Twitter face intense scrutiny over fake news on their websites with each rolling out measures to deal with the issue.

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Right-wing news site the Gateway Pundit, which the Trump administration granted White House press credentials this year, posted a now-deleted item identifying Geary Danley as the shooter with the headline: "Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army".

A Twitter spokeswoman said: "We are reviewing and removing content that violates our rules - both proactively and through reports". Both tech companies are facing questions about possible roles they may have inadvertently played in Russia's campaign to influence the 2016 election.

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