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03 October 2017, 08:00 | Dawn Berry
Image composite by mashable
On Monday morning, Google used its news feed to promote threads from 4chan, an online forum that's a popular source of disinformation campaigns. Facebook's "Safety Check" feature confronted users with far-right blogs that spat out false information about victims and the shooter. Numerous links on the first page of results included news sites that cited 4chan's "research" as potential evidence about Danley being the shooter and YouTube videos and other message boards around the web discussing him. The narrative quickly spread on Twitter.
Some of the 4chan and Gateway Pundit'sstory have now been deleted after the police confirmed Paddock as the shooter.
As BuzzFeed's Ryan Broderick first pointed out on Twitter, when you entered a Google search for "Geary Danley" this morning, the site displayed links to 4chan's pol (politically incorrect) message board in its Top Stories section wrongly identifying him as the shooter.
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. Furthermore, this White House-credentialed website also implied that the mass murderer was a Democrat and was anti-Trump. Google searches for the phrase "Geary Danley" returned a link to a 4chan thread labeling the man a risky leftist - a link that sat untouched for hours until the platform's algorithm eventually bumped it.
Meanwhile on YouTube, top search results for Stephen Paddock - the real gunman - were already contaminated with conspiracy theories disseminated by 4Chan and amplified by Google, which painted the shooter as a "radical democrat terrorist", who was "most likely Anti Trump extreme left". That includes not just fake news but screenshots of fake news that's been debunked, and that's already been circulated to an untold number of people.
Facebook admitted Monday that its system automatically promoted stories that falsely identified the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre.
In a statement, a Google spokesperson conceded that the search engine giant's algorithm was "briefly surfacing an inaccurate 4chan website" for what it said was a "small number of queries". "We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused". "This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make algorithmic improvements to prevent this from happening in the future".
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