Facebook activates safety check after 50 killed in Las Vegas shooting

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U.S. online giants acknowledged Tuesday they failed to prevent rumors and misinformation from being circulated during and after the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Facebook and Google have been criticised for promoting false news stories claiming that the shooter who killed more than 50 people in Las Vegas was a Democrat who opposed Donald Trump.

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. As of press time, Google has not responded to Ars' request to confirm the legitimacy of this reposted e-mail.

Various reports have suggested that Facebook's over-reliance on algorithms to differentiate between real and fake news has been its undoing. Far-right website Gateway Pundit also published a story with the headline: "Last Vegas Shooter reportedly a Democrat who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army".

A link to Danley's Facebook page also made it to the front page but no sources debunking the unfounded allegations levied against him appeared in the first results, nor did any of the sources correctly identifying the shooter as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant.

Google is touting threads from controversial message board site 4Chan as people look to find out who is behind the Las Vegas shooting massacre.

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In a statement shared with reporters, Google blamed the promotion of 4chan in its search results on its algorithm, which apparently is now properly tweaked.

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

The incident highlights yet again how news and social-media algorithms created to help surface the best information can fall short in the hours after a major incident, when few factual details are readily available because authorities have yet to confirm or release them. Alt-Right News on October 2 theorized that the actual shooter, Paddock, was probably a "left-wing nutjob" associated with a woman who "may or may not be a Muslim".

"However, its removal was delayed by a few minutes, allowing it to be screen captured and circulated online", Facebook said. Then the false reports of "missing" people started popping up, Buzzfeed reported.

The false identification of Danley as the suspected shooter wasn't the only hoax that spread overnight Sunday into Monday morning.

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