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Facebook activates Safety Check following shooting in Las Vegas

Facebook activates Safety Check following shooting in Las Vegas

62-year-old Marilou Danley has been identified as a "person of interest" by Las Vegas police in the aftermath of a deadly concert shooting last night that has led to the reported deaths of 50 people and injuries to over 200 individuals.

Links to 4Chan's "pol" (politically incorrect) message board occupied the coveted "Top Stories" section of the Google search results for several hours after the shooting; a critical period in which families and loved ones of people at the venue, desperate for news, would turn to Google News for information.

Despite months of promises from Bay Area tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter to crack down on the spread of so-called fake news, Sunday's mass shooting and the false reports that followed brought into stark focus how easily systems meant to combat online lies can still be fooled. As a (since-deleted) Gateway Pundit article stated, Danley is "Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army" based on information gleaned from his Facebook page.

The Gateway Pundit has a reputation for spreading fake news, including the well-documented "Pizzagate" story, which falsely claimed that members of the Democratic Party were involved in a human-trafficking, child-sex operation during the 2016 US Presidential election.

The FBI said Monday that there are no apparent links between the shooting and global terror groups.

Facebook said its security staff had seen the post and removed it. Links to those posts were appearing at the top of search results for the misidentified man's name, according to Buzzfeed reporter Ryan Broderick.

A Twitter spokeswoman on Monday pointed to a June blog post from Colin Crowell, Twitter's vice president of public policy, government and philanthropy when asked about the false tweets cropping up on the social network.

On Monday morning, Google used its news feed to promote threads from 4chan, an online forum that's a popular source of disinformation campaigns.

On Monday, Facebook said it had done so and also would hire an additional 1,000 workers to police ads on its site.

The search engine picked up the 4chan story from the broader web, and not from anything it ran in its Google News site, according to the spokesperson. "This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make improvements to prevent this from happening in the future". This is precisely how fake news became such a gargantuan issue.

Google, for its part, doesn't seem to understand how bad some "breaking stories" and "content" are in the context of news, especially around a terrorist attack.

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