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

Facebook activates safety check after 50 killed in Las Vegas shooting

The killer has been named by police as Stephen Paddock, 64, a millionaire gambler whose motive remains unknown.

Google said in a statement it highlighted 4chan's "Politically Incorrect" message board, where the incorrect posts appeared, for several hours before its search algorithm replaced it with more relevant results. Facebook's Safety Check, for example, lets people check in with friends and family to let them know whether they are safe.

According to Buzzfeed, fake news regarding the incident may have its roots on Twitter, with false reports appearing within minutes of the shooting.

Meanwhile, Facebook's "Safety Check" page, which is created to help people near an emergency inform their loved ones that they're safe, also promoted several dubious stories from right-wing news sites Gateway Pundit and Blogspot that misidentified the suspect and his motives.

An article in the right-wing conspiracy site Gateway Pundit falsely identified Geary Danley as the suspected shooter Monday.

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Facebook posts from now-removed pages also added to the misinformation being spread.

The fake news spilling from the platforms of Bay Area tech giants comes as they face questions from Congress about alleged use of their services by Russia-linked entities in an alleged campaign to influence the presidential election that gave us Donald Trump. Marilou Danley has since been dismissed as a person of interest; earlier Monday morning, police established that she was out of the country at the time of the shooting and that the shooter had used her slot machine card, which triggered the initial investigation into her involvement. However, the page briefly displayed a story claiming the shooter was a Trump-hating fan of liberal TV host Rachel Maddow, among other hoaxes.

The automation of editorial judgment, combined with tech companies' reluctance to appear partisan, has created a lopsided battle between those who want to spread misinformation and those tasked with policing it. Posting a malicious rumor on Facebook, or writing a false news story that is indexed by Google, is a almost instantaneous process; removing such posts often requires human intervention.

This morning they told The Atlantic they took down the 4chan Google hits "within hours".

The "false facts" and inaccurate images made their way to Facebook, Twitter, 4chan, Reddit and other distribution sites - so many, and so quickly, they were hard to track. "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 was quoted as saying in the report. Facebook had a similar response, telling the Times that it working to correct the issue that enabled it to happen and that it " deeply regrets the confusion this caused". Other false reports spread on the social media network included a hoax falsely identifying comedian Sam Hyde as the shooter.

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