Fake News on Vegas Shooter Embarrasses Google and Facebook

05 October, 2017, 00:43 | Author: Jeannette Greene
  • How far-right trolls named the wrong man as the Las Vegas shooter

That phony story quickly embedded itself into the algorithms of Google and Facebook, where sites promoting the rumour remained at the top of the results for anyone searching for Danley's name.

After the page went live following the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people, scammers immediately took advantage of it.

But the less-than-reliable news circulating in the aftermath of the Las Vegas attack didn't stop with Google. The article claimed that the Las Vegas shooter was a Democrat associated with the "Anti-Trump army".

While some fake news tagged the shooter as a left-wing, anti-Trump activist, law enforcement officials have identified 64-year-old Stephen Paddock as the man behind the frightful attack.

The Google gaffe comes as Facebook and Twitter are facing a sharp backlash for fake posts and inflammatory ads out of Russian Federation on politically divisive issues that targeted users on the social media services during the presidential election.

The internet giants Facebook, Google and Twitter have allowed an article with false information about the author of the shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night, even offering to internet users as a search result. For instance 4chan found the name of a person linked to person of interest Marilou Danley in a dox aimed at her which led to the Gateway Pundit article. More recently, The Verge reported on a Facebook redesign of the Trending News page, sharing an explanation from Facebook about how the stories are chosen.


News reports emerged that Facebook's Safety Check feature surfaced fake news on Monday.

Google later acknowledged that it had been briefly surfacing an inaccurate "4chan" website in its Search results for a small number of queries.

"This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make improvements to prevent this from happening in the future". 4chan's incorrect post was displayed for several hours before Google's search algorithm replaced it with more relevant results.

The falsehoods aren't only about the shooter, his associations and motivations, however. Meanwhile, Facebook to acknowledged the issue and said that its employees saw the problem and fixed it. In that time, it added, the post was "screen-captured and circulated online". "We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused", they said. Other false reports spread on the social media network included a hoax falsely identifying comedian Sam Hyde as the shooter. Then the false reports of "missing" people started popping up, the website reported.

The incidents come at a time when social and internet platforms are coming under enormous pressure for their role in disseminating fake stories, which may impact political outcomes.

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