Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

Facebook admits it promoted fake Vegas massacre stories

How far-right trolls named the wrong man as the Las Vegas shooter Facebook activates safety check after 50 killed in Las Vegas shooting
Clarence Schmidt | 04 October, 2017, 01:55

If the bloody massacre in Las Vegas was a test of the ability of Google, Facebook and Twitter to stop fake news, all three failed miserably.

Many opined that the shooter's name was "Geary Danley", claiming he was a registered Democrat, with message board site 4chan yet again proving to be a hotbed of alt-right untruths, according to the Guardian. Google hired the founder of 4chan, Christopher Poole, in 2016, though there's no indication that he's involved with the search results that promoted 4chan. Reporter William Turton said that he had not discussed any "attribution terms" before receiving Google's e-mail, which confirmed that the Google News service was bombed into automatically reposting a false shooter's name.

"Unfortunately, early this morning we were briefly serving an inaccurate 4chan website in our Search results for a small number of queries", the company said in a statement.

"This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make improvements to prevent this from happening in the future".

Facebook's Trending Topics section for the shooting includes a featured article and a mix of public posts generated by an algorithm. The posts incorrectly reported the suspected shooter had ties to a terrorist group.

The suspect has been identified as local man Stephen Paddock, 64.

Facebook said it discovered a false news story on the shooting and acted to remove it. These stories have since been replaced with news from more prominent outlets such as NBC News. "However, its removal was delayed by a few minutes, allowing it to be screen captured and circulated online".

Social-media companies have become vital communications tools for people in the aftermath of natural disasters and other deadly incidents.

Facebook has set up a crisis response page so people who are in Las Vegas can let people know they are safe.

Both tech giants have faced calls to take greater responsibility for the stories they promote following revelations of Russian interference in last year's U.S. elections. One of those people-a sibling of a person of interest who was later cleared by Vegas police of wrongdoing-had social-media attachments to left-leaning subjects such as MoveOn.org and MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. On Monday, Facebook said it plans to add 1,000 new workers to review advertisements. Google is conducting an internal investigation into possible Russian meddling on its platform, a Google source with knowledge of the matter previously told CNN. Twitter Inc. also is facing heat over the prevalence of anonymous, automated accounts - or bots - on its platform.

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