FAKE NEWS Spreads That Geary Danley Was Actual Gunman & Obama Supporter

Yolanda Curtis
October 3, 2017

As law enforcement and news organizations raced to piece together what happened during the worst mass shooting in modern USA history Sunday night in Las Vegas, web denizens less wedded to the truth rushed in to provide details of their own - which quickly went viral. The post remained online for hours and began to circulate, and was only taken down when police named Stephen Paddock as the suspect. Mashable was able to replicate the result, but the links no longer appear in the module.

In the immediate aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, people turned to Facebook and Google, looking for news about what happened and, in some cases, updates about their friends and loved ones in the area.

Perhaps the most egregious strain of misinformation took hold after far-right trolls gathered on 4chan, a forum in which individuals are permitted to post nearly anything anonymously, and, through some amateur online sleuthing, misidentified the shooter. The headline, still visible in search results, and remaining on the first page of results for Danley when I ran my 9 a.m. search, read, "Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with anti-Trump Army".

Meanwhile, in place of its previous post, The Gateway Pundit is now promoting a story pushing the notion that ISIS is behind the Las Vegas attack, citing the Islamic group's unsupported claims that the shooter "converted to Islam months ago".

Facebook said its security staff had seen the post and removed it. Google searches for the phrase "Geary Danley" returned a link to a 4chan thread labeling the man a unsafe leftist - a link that sat untouched for hours until the platform's algorithm eventually bumped it.

At least six 4chan threads were pushing the fake story that Danley and his family were "dangerous leftists" early Monday morning, as Buzzfeed's Ryan Broderick noted. The false claim spread quickly on the Internet.

On Facebook and Twitter, where tweets claiming to be urgent messages about missing loved ones ran rampant, fake information can be even more hard to discern as the posts mirror legitimate cries for help.

"This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make algorithmic improvements to prevent this from happening in the future", the spokesperson said. Google too shared posts from forums like 4chan that were also disseminating wrong information. This is precisely how fake news became such a gargantuan issue.

Last night, a gunman targeted a country music festival in Las Vegas and opened fire.

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