IT&Software

Far-right bloggers blame innocent man for Las Vegas shooting

Far-right bloggers blame innocent man for Las Vegas shooting

People tend to the wounded outside the festival ground after a gunman killed at least 50 people on Sunday in Las Vegas. Facebook's Safety Check, for example, lets people check in with friends and family to let them know whether they are safe.

Facebook's Trending Topics section for the shooting includes a featured article and a mix of public posts generated by an algorithm.

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.

The false content on 4chan about the mass murderer was "quickly picked up and magnified by The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that has repeatedly misidentified attackers and continues to promote debunked conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama's birthplace, among other misinformation", Business Insider reported.

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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The companies on Monday issued statements blaming the results on algorithmic miscalculations - the result of companies moving away from human moderators to rely on machines and artificial intelligence.

Among the outlets promoted by Facebook were The Gateway Pundit; a blog called Alt Right News; and several websites of questionable credibility.

"Our Global Security Operations Center spotted these posts this morning and we have removed them". But because that removal was "delayed", the company said, images of the incorrect story were captured and circulated online. When asked why its Crisis Response and News Stories algorithms failed to catch any of this, we did not get an answer, but Facebook said it is "working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused". That article's URL was still the top result for Danley's name on Google in the early hours of Monday morning.

Russian "bots" have been blamed for trying to frame Danley, spreading posts on social media before verified sources confirmed the shooter was Paddock.

Google, for its part, didn't do much better than Facebook. The named appeared on the board when its members began looking through people connected to names that had been mentioned by Las Vegas investigators.


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