Facebook, Twitter and Google identified the wrong man

Ryan Broderick  Twitter

In Google's "Top Stories" section, which features breaking news stories based on search queries at the top of the page, the first recommended link led to one of the 4Chan boards that wrongly identified the shooter.

Of course, we know that Nevada police have now confirmed that the shooter was, in fact, a 64-year old local man named Stephen Paddock who opened fire from his room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, where he was holed up with an army's worth of ammunition. As with Google, Facebook was able to take down the false reports from showing up on its platform, but it was too late.

Fake victims. Fake shooters.

Google and other tech giants like Facebook have prided themselves on their commitment to eradicating "fake news".

Schiff says Silicon Valley needs to prove its technology protects the public from misinformation.

A Facebook spokesperson said that the story was spotted by the the company's Global Security Operations Center and removed Monday morning.

"However, its removal was delayed by a few minutes, allowing it to be screen captured and circulated online", Facebook said. It has recently hired thousands of people to moderate video content and political ads. The site is notorious for spreading fake news and racism.

In a statement shared with reporters, Google blamed the promotion of 4chan in its search results on its algorithm, which apparently is now properly tweaked. And it's in this lending of legitimacy that we see the problem that runs underneath almost all discussions of fake news and the like: In relying on algorithms and other computer-only methods to tell people what's news or not, both Google and Facebook have opened themselves up to highlighting "news sites" that would never pass muster if a human being were involved in the vetting process. A Google spokesman said, "This should not have appeared for any queries, and we'll continue to make algorithmic improvements to prevent this from happening in the future".

Both Google and YouTube have been criticized for punishing independent and alternative media, either through vigorous demonetization of content or burying certain publishers in their search results.

Social media has seen a shift from personal pictures and status updates to one of the main ways people get their news.

The Google gaffe comes as Facebook and Twitter are facing a sharp backlash for fake posts and inflammatory ads out of Russian Federation on politically divisive issues that targeted users on the social media services during the presidential election. "We, as a company, should not be the arbiter of truth". Their algorithms are the very skeleton of the system-they determine what people are engaging with and share those even further. The company tries to strike a balance between the two when it presents information.

Still, it remains unclear what impact any of these efforts have had.

The "false facts" and inaccurate images made their way to Facebook, Twitter, 4chan, Reddit and other distribution sites - so many, and so quickly, they were hard to track.

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