Google And Facebook Under Fire For Sharing Hoaxes During Las Vegas Attack


Senators heavily criticized Twitter for failing to dig deep enough in its investigation into Russian activity on the site prior to the U.S. presidential election, while Facebook is expected to share thousands of divisive ads bought between 2015 and 2017 by Russia-linked accounts.

Yesterday a gunman opened fire on civilians at a concert in Las Vegas.

However, Google and Facebook prominently displayed fake news about the Las Vegas massacre, highlighting once again the information mismanagement problem of the two platforms.

The "Gateway Pundit" site was among those receiving criticism for a post that linked the Las Vegas shooter with several liberal organizations, calling him an associate of the "Anti-Trump Army".

The misidentification spread rapidly from corners of the internet to mainstream platforms just hours after hundreds were injured at a festival near the Mandalay Bay casino, the latest example of fake news polluting social media amid a breaking news story, reports The Guardian. This inevitably got caught by the search engine company's algorithm, which interpreted the trend as a topic worthy of placing on its Top Stories section. "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 told Engadget.

Earlier this year, investors concerned about the impact fake news may have on these companies' bottom lines recommended policy changes at the annual shareholder meetings of Alphabet, Google's parent company, and Facebook. "Within hours, the 4chan story was algorithmically replaced by relevant results", Google said in a statement, as cited by Gizmodo.

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Interior minister Gerard Collomb said on Twitter he was heading to the scene. One source said he was known to police for common law crimes.

According to Buzzfeed, fake news regarding the incident may have its roots on Twitter, with false reports appearing within minutes of the shooting.

Critics later voiced their displeasure with their decision to use an algorithm, warning that such a system could easily be gamed by anybody willing enough to try.

The post suggested that the killer may have been "a Trump-hating Rachel Maddow fan" in an apparent reference to the misidentified Danley's Facebook page. According to them, a story was chosen based on "the engagement around the article on Facebook, the engagement around the publisher overall, and whether other articles are linking to it".

The false claim, however, quickly spread across the internet and was amplified by Google.

The Gateway Pundit post was eventually deleted.

When they woke up and glanced at their phones Monday morning, Americans may have been shocked to learn that the man behind the mass shooting in Las Vegas late on Sunday was an anti-Trump liberal who liked Rachel Maddow and, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had already linked him to the Islamic State, and that mainstream news organizations were suppressing that he had recently converted to Islam.