The spread of rightwing blogs, claiming the shooter was an anti-Trump liberal, on to mainstream platforms is the latest example of hyper-partisan trolling after a tragedy
Facebook and Google promoted false news narratives claiming that the shooter who killed more than 50 people in Las Vegas was a Democrat who opposed Donald Trump. The misidentification spread rapidly from dark corners of the internet to mainstream platforms only hours after hundreds were injured at a festival near the Mandalay Bay casino, the latest example of fake news polluting social media amid a violate news story.
The flow of misinformation on Monday exemplified a particularly grim trend that has increasingly predominated viral online propaganda during US mass shootings- hyper-partisan trolls combating to blame the misfortune on opposing political ideologies.
Police have identified Stephen Paddock as the suspect who opened fire from a high-rise hotel room, killing ratings and injuring hundreds more. But before authorities named the 64 -year-old Nevada man, some on the far right falsely identified the man behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history as Geary Danley. It’s unclear where exactly the hoax originated, but rightwing users aggressively promoted his name, seizing on evidence that he was a liberal.
On 4chan, the anonymous message board and a favorite platform of the “alt-right”, some noted that Danley was a registered Democrat. Soon after, Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy-laden blog that earned White House credentials under Trump, published an evidence-free narrative headlined,” Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army “. The piece was based on a review of Facebook ” likes “.