Here Are All The Hoaxes Being Spread About The Las Vegas Shooting

That article's URL was still the top result for Danley's name on Google in the early hours of Monday morning. Facebook's "Safety Check" feature confronted users with far-right blogs that spat out false information about victims and the shooter. In fact, one of the reasons why that Gateway Pundit story gained traction is because Google News' Top Stories was promoting the 4chan thread that seems to have been the source of it. Users of the popular internet forum board wrongly claimed that the shooter was someone named "Geary Danley", whom they said was a member of an "anti-Trump army" based on his Facebook activity, such as page likes.

A Twitter spokeswoman on Monday pointed to a June blog post from Colin Crowell, Twitter's vice president of public policy, government and philanthropy when asked about the false tweets cropping up on the social network. There are multiple reports that Danley accompanied the assailant - ID'd as Stephen Paddock by local authorities - and that she would likely have insights into what spawned such a awful attack.

A link to Danley's Facebook page also made it to the front page but no sources debunking the unfounded allegations levied against him appeared in the first results, nor did any of the sources correctly identifying the shooter as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant.

Facebook admitted Monday that its system automatically promoted stories that falsely identified the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre. The Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump site credentialed by the White House, was among the news organisations that picked up the fake news straight from 4chan.

Within minutes of the incorrect identification of the terrorist, headlines began to pop up from right-wing posters such as "The Shooter Was an Alt-left Anti-Trumper Extremist". 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. However, their removal was delayed, allowing them to be screen captured and circulated online. Another top hit goes to a Heavy.com story identifying Marilou Danley as a "former "high-limit hostess" at a casino" that focuses on her ethnicity.

Google says that despite the mistake it was only visible "for a small number of queries" and that it had been eventually "algorithmically replaced" by more relevant results. "We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen", the Facebook representative told CNN.

"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 said.

  • Fernando Stephens