Google and Facebook have both launched initiatives to eliminate fake news, but in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in the United States in modern history, fake news dominated in both platforms.
People from all over the world were scouring online news for details on the Las Vegas shooting incident, and the fake news featured by Google and Facebook only hid the true information about the tragedy.
Fake News On Google And Facebook
On the evening of Oct. 1, a gunman killed at least 59 people and injured over 500 more in Las Vegas. Not long after the tragedy, news on the incident started flooding the platforms of Google and Facebook.
However, Google and Facebook prominently displayed fake news about the Las Vegas massacre, highlighting once again the information mismanagement problem of the two platforms.
In its search results for the incident, Google posted dubious links to 4chan, a forum that serves as a playground for online trolls. Users from 4chan falsely named an individual as the shooter in the Las Vegas tragedy, and while Google said that it was able to remove the 4chan post from its search results within hours of tagging it as a top story related to the incident, the damage was already done by then.
Meanwhile, on Facebook's Safety Check feature, which allows users to see if any of their friends or family members are safe during times of crisis, stories from right-wing news websites were promoted. The stories also falsely identified the identity of the shooter, which snowballed into other fake news. As with Google, Facebook was able to take down the false reports from showing up on its platform, but it was too late.
The missteps show that Google and Facebook are still suffering from the fake news problem despite all the promises that the companies made to address the issue after the 2016 presidential elections. Both Google and Facebook are again blaming the mistakes on faulty algorithms, but this simply has to stop.
Hundreds of millions of people get their news from Google and Facebook, and fake news propagating on these platforms with no human intervention and no immediate response in case of mistakes will only worsen the culture of misinformation across the internet.
Las Vegas Shooting Incident
While some fake news tagged the shooter as a left-wing, anti-Trump activist, law enforcement officials have identified 64-year-old Stephen Paddock as the man behind the horrible attack.
Paddock shot at attendees of an outdoor music festival from a high floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Paddock, who was found dead in his room, has not been confirmed to be linked to any terrorist group.