News of the shooting at the YouTube headquarters spread quickly on social media, but while most users were sharing information about the unfolding events others were maliciously posting fake news.
Among the real eyewitness accounts and footage of the emergency, some users started to post fake allegations about the identity of the shooter, made up claims that friends had gone missing in the area and spread misinformation.
The gun attack in San Bruno, California, left a man and two women injured with gunshot wounds. The attacker, named by police as Nasim Aghdam, shot herself dead.
Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers.— Vadim Lavrusik (@Lavrusik) April 3, 2018
During the shooting, Vadim Lavrusik, a YouTube product manager and a verified Twitter user, used the platform to live-tweet the latest developments from inside the headquarters.
However, after Mr Lavrusik tweeted to say he and his colleague were safe, a hoaxer gained access to his Twitter account.
The hacker tweeted misinformation and homophobic content, including a bogus claim that his friend had gone missing after being caught up in the shooting.
looking like someone hacked vadim’s account, per last two tweets pic.twitter.com/Hy66RxAWXj— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) April 3, 2018
Many people on Twitter flagged up the hacked tweets to moderators which prompted Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey to step in to get the hoax tweets removed.
We’re on it— jack (@jack) April 3, 2018
After being led to safety, Mr Lavrusik tweeted to say he had got his account back.
There were rumours circulating that David Hogg, who survived the Parkland shooting in February, was on his way to the YouTube headquarters.
Hogg has been a target of online abuse since he and his fellow classmates advocated for tighter gun control laws in the wake of the attack.
Other people posted an image of US comedian Sam Hyde, claiming he was the alleged gunman, but people dismissed it as a common hoax.
1. The suspect is NOT SAM HYDE. This is the #1 hoax during breaking news situations. pic.twitter.com/yIA7aTAtYI— Jane Lytvynenko 🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️ (@JaneLytv) April 3, 2018
The image of Hyde has been re-circulated after a large number of mass shootings in the US in the last few years.
1.5 These are both images of Sam Hyde, he is not a suspect. Online trolls use him after every breaking news situation. Don't fall for this one. pic.twitter.com/pNCaTEk3Cg— Jane Lytvynenko 🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️ (@JaneLytv) April 3, 2018
Even Jane Lytvynenko, the BuzzFeed reporter who covers online misinformation including the YouTube shooting, was dragged into the mess.
29: This is literally me. pic.twitter.com/lSCgaF49SH— Jane Lytvynenko 🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️ (@JaneLytv) April 3, 2018
It is not the first time that social media platforms struggled with misinformation and fake images during breaking news events.
After the shooting, Twitter's Dorsey addressed the issue of fake news on his social media platform.
We’re also aware of the misinformation being spread on Twitter. We’re tracking, learning, and taking action. We‘re working diligently on product solutions to help. https://t.co/V8vmxgFkmR— jack (@jack) April 3, 2018
Written by UGC and Social News team