Google, Facebook, & YouTube Promote Hoaxes On Las Vegas Mass Shooter

Facebook activates safety check after 50 killed in Las Vegas shooting

On Facebook's dedicated "Safety Check" page for the Las Vegas massacre-which says it lets users "connect with friends and family and find and give help after a crisis"-one of the top stories earlier today was from a Blogspot titled "Alt-Right News". Reporter William Turton said that he had not discussed any "attribution terms" before receiving Google's e-mail, which confirmed that the Google News service was bombed into automatically reposting a false shooter's name.

Among those falsely stated to be missing in Las Vegas were a German pro-soccer player, a murder suspect from Mexico and a male porn star - whose pictures were taken from the Internet.

The false content on 4chan about the mass murderer was "quickly picked up and magnified by The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that has repeatedly misidentified attackers and continues to promote debunked conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama's birthplace, among other misinformation", Business Insider reported.

However, users on the anonymous message board 4Chan wrongly identified the suspect as Geary Danley, noting that he was a registered Democrat who was anti-Trump. But according to some background bullet points a Google spokesperson shared with a journalist from The Outline, the company admitted that "when the 4chan story broke, it triggered Top Stories which unfortunately led to this inaccurate result".

"This should not have appeared for any queries", a Google spokesperson said, adding that the company would aim to prevent it from happening again.

"Our Global Security Operations Center spotted these posts this morning and we have removed them", a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

But the less-than-reliable news circulating in the aftermath of the Las Vegas attack didn't stop with Google. The Safety Check can be used to see who in an area affected by a violent event, such as a mass shooting or a natural disaster, has marked themselves as safe.

In a statement, Facebook said, "We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused". USA lawmakers are also investigating the role their platforms inadvertently played in Russia's alleged campaign to influence the 2016 United States presidential election. Facebook is expected to share with Congress more than 3,000 examples of ads Russia-linked accounts bought on the platform from 2015 to 2017. Google is conducting an internal investigation into possible Russian meddling on its platform, a Google source with knowledge of the matter previously told CNN.

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