Facebook safety page showed spam, hoaxes after Las Vegas shooting

Facebook safety page showed spam, hoaxes after Las Vegas shooting

Scammers looking to push hoaxes flocked to Facebook in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting to take advantage of Facebook’s safety check feature.

During major crises like shootings and natural disasters, Facebook lets users in the affected area mark themselves “safe,” sending out a notification to their friends and family on Facebook.

Users can also visit a Facebook page with information about people they know in the area and see breaking news on the disaster.

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After the page went live following the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people , scammers immediately took advantage of it.

One website, mytvtoday.com, asked users for bitcoin donations. Another, dennismichaellynch.com, directed users to a site selling bumper stickers. Links to each of the sites on Facebook featured headlines that resembled normal news stories but linked to scam and hoax websites.

“Gunfire heard at mass shooting incident in Las Vegas, Nevada,” read MyTVToday’s headline. “Who Was Las Vegas shooter and What Was His Motive?” read another.

 

The page also featured photos from the AANR Midwest American Association for Nude Recreation and a story that described the shooter as a “Trump-hating Rachel Maddow fan,” the Verge found.

The New York Times pointed out that on Facebook’s trending topics bar, its link to news on the Las Vegas shooting showed users a story published by Sputnik, a Russian state-owned news outlet.

“Our Global Security Operations Center spotted the post this morning and removed it. However, its removal was delayed by a few minutes, allowing it to be screen captured and circulated online,” Facebook told Fast Company on Monday in response to the hoax and spam websites showing up. “We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused.”

As of this morning, Facebook appears to have removed the hoax and spam websites from the Las Vegas shooting page.

This isn’t Facebook’s first hiccup with the safety check-in page. In December, it incorrectly displayed that an explosion had happened in Bangkok after its algorithms mistakenly determined a terrorist attack had occurred.