Rumors in regards to the gunman and what had taken place spread widely online — often with easily debunked evidence or none in any respect — almost immediately after the primary official reports in regards to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Listed here are three of probably the most outstanding rumors which have spread on online platforms comparable to Twitter, Gab, 4chan and Reddit.
1. No, the shooting was not a staged ‘false flag’ operation.
Hours after the attack on Tuesday, far-right figures spread misinformation claiming that the shooting was a “false flag” attack. Amongst their unfounded claims were that the shooting had been orchestrated to attract local law enforcement away from the border, allowing criminals and medicines to cross into the USA, and that gun-control advocates had organized the tragedy to stoke public outrage.
Other social media posts alleged that folks shown in news clips awaiting news of their children gave the impression to be insufficiently emotional and were crisis actors being paid to play a job. The 2 teachers who were killed were also accused of being crisis actors.
Claims of crisis actors and false flags at school shootings are usually not recent: The conspiracy theorist and broadcaster Alex Jones of Infowars has lied for years that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., was staged by the federal government, with people pretending to be survivors and victims’ parents. Last 12 months, Mr. Jones lost 4 defamation lawsuits filed by victims’ families, a lot of whom have been harassed by his believers.
2. No, there isn’t a evidence that the gunman was transgender.
Hours after the attack, a post on the perimeter online message board 4chan circulated claiming that the gunman was transgender. Quite a few photographs falsely claiming to point out the gunman wearing women’s clothing were attached.
The authorities have said the gunman was male.
The unfounded claims made their method to Telegram channels of far-right militia groups comparable to the Proud Boys, where people falsely claimed that the shooting was a results of hormone therapy undertaken by the gunman.
By Wednesday, the claims that the gunman was transgender had been amplified by high-profile people comparable to Representative Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican who was censured last 12 months by the House after he posted a video that depicted him killing a Democratic lawmaker. Mr. Gosar’s Twitter post on the matter has been deleted.
Photos of dark-haired transgender women circulated alongside images of the gunman’s face, accompanied with false accusations that they were the identical person. “There may be an awesome number of people who’re posting images of this person, who was the shooter, and data in regards to the nature of them being transgender,” Stacy Washington, the host of the SiriusXM show “Stacy on the Right,” said on Tuesday night. She added: “We don’t have definitive proof, but I’d say, this many pictures? My goodness. There’s something happening here.”
On Tuesday, a transgender artist said on Reddit that individuals online “just took my photos and used it to spread misinformation.” After the artist posted other photos as proof, an account on Twitter that discusses gun rights deleted a post that had included the artist’s photo and apologized.
A 22-year-old transgender student living in Recent York also reported that photos of her were falsely linked to the gunman. She posted photos of herself on Twitter to prove her identity and asked people to stop saying the photos of her were of the gunman.
“Im very near crying,” she posted at one point.
The Trans Safety Network, a research group that monitors threats against the transgender community, said in an announcement on Wednesday that it had identified photos of three transgender people wrongly linked to the gunman and confirmed that every one three were alive.
Mr. Gosar and Ms. Washington didn’t reply to requests for comment.
3. No, the gunman was not an undocumented immigrant.
False claims that the gunman was born outside the USA began to flow into inside hours of the shooting. Spread largely on white nationalist Telegram channels and Gab accounts, the claims alleged that he was an undocumented immigrant in the USA, even after authorities including Roland Gutierrez, a Texas state senator, confirmed that the gunman was born in North Dakota.
Two Telegram groups with ties to white supremacist figures claimed Wednesday that the gunman had “illegally penetrated” the country from the Mexican border. The groups, which each have 1000’s of followers, went on to falsely claim that the gunman was undocumented in the USA.
“Did he cross the border illegally?” Code of Vets, a veterans organization, posted on Twitter. “Our nation has a serious national security crisis evolving.”
Later, the group added a post noting that “the shooter has been confirmed to be a citizen” while stating: “Mental health should be addressed. Our border should be secured.”
Mr. Gosar also said the gunman had been within the country illegally.