Google admits citing 4chan to spread fake Vegas shooter news


It's the deadliest mass shooting in USA history, and Facebook has turned on its "safety check" function, which is activated when a group of people are in a crisis situation, for Las Vegas.

Users on the message board site 4chan identified the wrong man as the suspect in the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. Mashable was able to replicate the result, but the links no longer appear in the module.

But both Facebook's and Google's statements refuse to reckon with the problems these automated systems have created. Many far-right users said the incorrect shooter had followed Democratic pages on social media.

An article in the right-wing conspiracy site Gateway Pundit falsely identified Geary Danley as the suspected shooter Monday. The first link, to a site called, appears to have uploaded someone else's video of the shooting to YouTube (the description says the video "may contain copyrighted material"), and embedded it on the site.

The company said last month it would turn the ads over to Congress and increase transparency of all political ads.

Facebook said its security staff had seen the post and removed it. But that implies that Google's algorithm is tuned to read posts on 4chan as potential news source for its Top Stories promotion at the top of its search results, and if that is the case, the company probably needs to re-evaluate what sources it pulls into that feed. Millions of concerned people, some potentially with family members affected by the shooting, likely Googled or searched on Twitter and Facebook for scraps of information in the hours after the attack. However, their removal was delayed, allowing them to be screen captured and circulated online.

In the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas Sunday, people desperate for information about loved ones turned to Google to find out what was happening, only to see their searches yield fake news results, courtesy of 4Chan. "We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused". Within hours, the 4chan story was algorithmically replaced by relevant results.

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.

Once police identified Paddock, accounts on Twitter and Facebook began claiming he was part of the leftist group Antifa.