Las Vegas shooting: Facebook safety-check feature found to be promoting alt-right news

In the wake of Las Vegas shooting attack which killed 58 and injured 527, online platforms such as Facebook and Google are the go-to places to find more information and updated news. But it seems that Facebook's Safety Check feature, which is used to mark oneself safe, was being used to promote fake news around the attack.

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

After the attack, Facebook had activated the Safety Check option. Following this, far-right groups began circulating information about a certain Geary Danley. Meanwhile, it was already disclosed in the media that the police was on the lookout for Marilou Danley, Stephen Paddock, the accused's girlfriend. However, the police later said that Marilou Danley wasn't involved in the attack.

According to the Washington Post, the alt-right groups digged up information on Geary Danley and found that he was previously married to Marilou Danley. Moreover, following his Facebook activity, the far-right groups had traced that the pages he liked, and his activity to fit it into their narrative that Geary Danley was anti-Trump and too liberal.

In no time, articles related to his presumed connections with the attack surfaced. Articles by another right-wing blog called Gateway Pundit made its way into news. Infact, Washington Post says that while it was searching for Geary Danley on Facebook, news articles linked to his alleged involvement in the attack were in the top of the search results.

This did not remain to Facebook alone, as the news was picked up by Google. Reports suggested that Google was showing the fake news as the top search result for any one searching for Geary Danley. Infact, there is a page on Everipidea dedicated to Danley, for his alleged involvement.

Meanwhile, a Facebook spokesperson in response to this false news said, “Our Global Security Operations Center spotted these posts this morning and we have removed them. However, their removal was delayed, allowing them to be screen captured and circulated online. We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused.”

At a time when Facebook is already dealing with a mess regarding fake news, it becomes imperative on their side to roll out a mechanism to combat this problem. Especially during situations like terror attacks where misinformation can trigger long-lasting adverse effects.


Updated Date: Oct 03, 2017 09:08 AM