Here are the hoaxes surrounding the Parkland shooting and the Stoneman Douglas students

Here are the hoaxes surrounding the Parkland shooting and the Stoneman Douglas students

Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

This piece has been updated to include additional hoax​es.

Since the February 14, mass shooting in Parkland, FL, survivors and reporters writing about the attacks have been the victim of multiple online hoaxes pushing misinformation.

On February 14, a man opened fire inside Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, FL, killing 17 people. Since then, student survivors of the shooting have spoken out about and campaigned for changes to gun laws, including by helping organize the March for Our Lives, a March 24 rally in Washington, D.C.

Almost immediately following the Parkland shooting, efforts began to discredit the survivors and those reporting on it. The hoaxes included the following:

  • A user on 4chan’s /pol/ seemingly created a fake image of a tweet from Hogg saying, “Fuck fags and their fag marriage,” which trolls then spread on Twitter.

  • YourNewsWire published a fake story that the March For Our Lives protesters were being paid by billionaire George Soros via a Craigslist ad. It has since spread to YouTube and Facebook, including in multiple pro-Trump Facebook groups.

  • Someone created fake images of tweets supposedly written by a Miami Herald reporter right after the shooting asking if the shooter was white and requesting photos of the dead bodies. (Claire Wardle, a research fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, told Poynter that she had never seen that kind of hoax before.)

  • Someone created a fake image of a Miami Herald article that said another Florida school was under threat about a week after the shooting, which spread on Snapchat, according to Poynter.

  • A fake antifa Twitter account took a photo -- likely from 4chan -- of someone in what they claimed was an antifa shirt and used it to falsely claim he was the shooter. From there, the image and claim spread via other far-right accounts on Twitter.

  • Conspiracy theory site Infowars, along with fake news sites YourNewsWire and Neon Nettle, claimed that there was a second shooter in the attack based on a video of one of the survivors, which the claim also being posted on Facebook. The false claim subsequently spread to the subreddit “r/The_Donald.”

  • Users on 4chan's /pol/ created a fake image of a BuzzFeed article supposedly headlined “Why We Need To Take Away White People’s Guns Now More Than Ever.” The Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich subsequently tweeted the fake image.

  • Multiple fake news sites published a fake story that former first lady Michelle Obama blamed President Donald Trump for the shooting. Macedonian Facebook accounts spammed one of the sites that posted the fake story in multiple pro-Trump Facebook groups.

  • Far-right websites, such as Silence Is Consent, Daily Presser, and Squawker, along with far-right accounts on Facebook and Twitter, falsely claimed that Hogg contradicted himself in a CBS interview about being at Stoneman Douglas at the time of the shooting. Contrary to far-right accusations that Hogg admitted he was not present, what Hogg explained in the interview was that he went back to the school later that night on the day of the shooting. In the interview, Hogg recounted how he was in class at Stoneman Douglas when the shooting began.

    The false claim also spread around 4chan’s /pol/ and on the subreddit “r/The_Donald,” along with far-right sites The Gateway Pundit and Infowars. The claim was also picked up by RedState, which later retracted the claim. The false claim later reached radio host Greg Knapp on Kansas’ KCMO-AM and the radio show Morning Show With Sean and Frank on Maryland’s WCBM-AM. Radio host Dennis Lindahl also considered the idea on North Dakota’s KTGO-AM, and the site Conservative Daily Post picked it up as well.

  • A far-right account called “Daily Redpill” shared on Instagram and Facebook a mislabled image of González attacking a “2nd Amendment supporter’s truck” at the March For Our Lives. The image was actually an old photo of singer Britney Spears. Other Facebook pages of some “satire” sites -- one of which is run by a self-professed troll -- also pushed the image, as did multiple pro-Trump subreddits and at least one Twitter account.

There will likely be more of these hoaxes. Affected platforms should prepare accordingly.

Stories/Interests
Fake News, Alt-right and pro-Trump trolls
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