Beware of the Texas Shooting Rumors Circulating on CNN and Google
As usual, another mass shooting took place in America this weekend, and disinformation, as usual, began to spread immediately. Falsifying facts on social media has become an important part of the standard media post-production process.
BuzzFeed debunks a growing list of myths , including two recurring hoaxes about YouTube personalities. The fake tweet claimed that fast food critic YouTube Reviewbrah was a victim, mimicking similar Reviewbrah hoaxes that spread after the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing and the October Las Vegas shooting.
On CNN, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez embarrassedly and irresponsibly named comedian and prankster Sam Hyde as a possible suspect. For more than two years now, Internet users have jokingly accused Hyde of massacres.
Google’s Highlighted Results feature also spread false rumors: when searching for an shooter’s name, Google’s Trending on Twitter feature found invalid tweets above the regular results section , right below the news article results in the same format. A Google spokesman even admitted to Gizmodo that the algorithm processes its results on Twitter, so there is very little excuse for spreading the lie that the shooter was a left-wing anti-fascist.
Interestingly, InfoWars conspiracy theorist and brain pill salesman Paul Joseph Watson was actually right that the local man shot the mass shooter . However, he may not be the ideal source for Google publishing in legitimate news outlets, as he also believes that depression does not exist .
In general, think twice before spreading the “news” of mass murder. Why are you spreading this – because it helps someone to be safe, or simply because it fits with the narrative that you believe in? Have you researched the news and found supporting sources that don’t just quote each other? Are your followers likely to need this information for an immediate, practical purpose? If not, perhaps wait a couple of days before posting, or even retweeting or reposting.
This does not mean that you cannot share your opinions and reactions. It just means you have to work hard and read the news before retweeting every piece of information that seems to support your story. Otherwise, you are just as bad as these terrible people on the other side of your political arguments.