United States online giants acknowledged Tuesday they failed to prevent rumors and misinformation from being circulated during and after the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.
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".
In Google's "Top Stories" section, which features breaking news stories based on search queries at the top of the page, the first recommended link led to one of the 4Chan boards that wrongly identified the shooter. A profile of Danley put together on Everipedia, a Wikipedia-style site with much looser guidelines and moderation.
Right-wing news site the Gateway Pundit, which the Trump administration granted White House press credentials this year, posted a now-deleted item identifying Geary Danley as the shooter with the headline: "Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army". Conservative writer Joe Hoft pounced, publishing and then retracting an article about the misidentified man. Police later identified a different person, Stephen Paddock, as the shooter. "Within hours, the 4chan story was algorithmically replaced by relevant results".
The 4chan search result was only appearing for queries that included the name [geary danley] but did not appear for general queries related to the shooting, according to a spokesperson.
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Facebook said its security staff saw the post and removed it. "However, its removal was delayed by a few minutes, allowing it to be screen captured and circulated online", the firm told Fast Company.
The admission followed Google News' propagation of an incorrect name as a potential shooter in the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Sunday night.
"We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused". Several accounts pointed the finger at an "Islamic convert" who is actually a comedian beloved by the far right.
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 apparently plucked from the internet.