Shortly after the shooting massacre at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday night, fake news and hoaxes spread like wildfire online, boosted by social media sites and Google. The tasteless false claims were spurred after a lone gunman shot into a crowd of concertgoers at country singer Jason Aldean’s performance, killing 59 people and injuring over 500 more.
Hoax #1: Missing People
A number of social media users were reportedly caught posting photos of people who didn’t attend the Jason Aldean concert and were not even in Vegas at all with the mass shooting occurred. For instance, Washington Post reports that Twitter user “jack sins” posted a picture of adult film star, Johnny Sins, and claimed the man was his father who disappeared during the shooting.
Mashable apparently caught on to the hoax and when confronted, the Twitter user indicated that he wanted “the retweets.” His Twitter account has since been suspended.
“I think you know why,” the Twitter used told Mashable. “For the retweets :)”
The Johnny Sins photo in one out of numbers of pictures posted by people who attempted to trick the public into thinking their loved ones were missing. Buzzfeed collected a list of fake missing people posts currently circulating online. You can access the list here.
Hoax #2: “Antifa Claims Responsibility for Las Vegas Attack”
PolitiFact reports that a site called Puppet Strings posted a snapshot of the claim that Antifa in Australia took responsibility for the Las Vegas mass shooting, carried out by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock.
“One of our comrades from our Las Vegas branch has made these fascist Trump supporting dogs pay,” the Melbourne-based Antifa group of Facebook posted (now deleted).
Shortly after, numerous Twitter users followed suit and reposted the information.
New far-right narrative forming: Stephen Paddock is "Antifa" pic.twitter.com/vHe77FD1im
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) October 2, 2017
There are no official reports that Antifa had anything to do with the attacks. Nothing on Paddock’s social media profiles suggests he had any part in Antifa. Family members reported that he had a gambling problem but led a private life with no known affiliations with Antifa or any political groups.
There is also no confirmation that Paddock was affiliated with Isis. The terrorist group took claim of the incident and reported that Paddock converted to their group a few months prior to the attack.
Hoax #3 Las Vegas Shooter Spotted at Anti-Trump Rallies
During the aftermath of the Vegas massacre, rumors began circulating that the shooter was previously spotted at anti-Trump rallies. According to Snopes, the information is false.
Newsweek reports that Alex Jones, a man infamous for claiming that the Sandy Hooks Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax, said that the Las Vegas mass shooting had been “scripted by deep state Democrats and their Islamic allies using mental patient cut-outs.”
According to Snopes, other outlets, such as Reddit and 4chan, wrote that Paddock attended anti-Trump rallies prior to the shootings, which made him a “leftie.” Currently there are only two verified photos of Paddock, neither of which took place at an anti-Trump rally. The alternatives photos submitted of the shooter, supposedly at the rallies, were taken as screenshots from a video and are too blurry to discern who it truly is.
Further, there are facial features differences in the anti-Trump rallies photos when compared to the actual photos of Paddock, which are clearly seen, even on low-resolution.
[Feature Photo: AP/Gregory Bull]