“Horrifying” conspiracy theories swirl around Texas shootings

Providence, Rhode Island (AP) — Now as predictable as a call for thought or prayer. Mass shootings have left many dead, followed immediately by barbaric conspiracy theories and false information about the genocide.

It happened later Sandy hookAfter Park landAfter a mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, and earlier this month Buffalo grocery store.. Within hours of a school shooting in Yuvalde, Texas on Tuesday, another rash began as Internet users spread unfounded claims. A man named Gunman And his possible motive.

Unfounded claims that shooters are immigrants or transgenders living illegally in the United States quickly emerged on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms. They were accompanied by a familiar conspiracy theory suggesting that the entire shoot was somehow staged.

The allegations reflect a broader issue of racism and intolerance against transgender people and are an effort to condemn shootings at minority groups that are already enduring higher rates. Harassment online When Hate crimeAccording to Disinformation expert Hymeron Golia.

“This is a tactic that serves two purposes. Avoid real conversations about the problem (gun violence), give patties to those who don’t want to face reality, and hold someone accountable,” Longoria said. The director says. A survey in the Disinfo Defense League, a non-profit organization that works to combat false information about racists.

A few hours after the shooting, a post that falsely claimed that the shooter lived illegally in the country was infected with the virus, and some users added decorations such as “escape from border guards”. ..

“He was an illegal alien who wanted to be murdered from El Salvador,” he read and retweeted hundreds of favorite tweets. “This was the blood in Biden’s hands and should never have happened.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at a press conference Tuesday that 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a man who said authorities had carried out the shooting, is a US citizen.

Other social media users confiscated images of innocent Internet users, misidentified them as shooters, and claimed he was transgender. On the online bulletin board 4Chan, users discussed plans to freely share photos and label gunmen as transgender without evidence to support them.

A Twitter post that was subsequently deleted showed a trans woman holding a green bottle in her mouth, looking into the camera, and hanging headphones from one ear.

“Latest news: The shooter’s identity has been revealed,” the user claimed, saying the shooter was “FEMBOY” with a YouTube channel.

None of that was true. The photo depicts a 22-year-old trans woman named Sabrina who actually lives in New York City. Sabrina, who demanded that her name not be disclosed due to her privacy concerns, confirmed to her Associated Press that her photo was hers and also partnered with her intended YouTube account. I said I didn’t.

Sabrina said she received a reaction of harassment on social media, especially a message claiming she was a shooter. She responded to many posts that disseminated the image with misidentification and asked her to remove her post.

“The whole test is just horrifying,” Sabrina told AP.

Another widely distributed photo shows a transgender woman in a Coca-Cola sweatshirt and black skirt. The second photo shows the same woman wearing a black NASA shirt with a red skirt. No shooter was seen in these pictures either. It belonged to a Reddit user named Sam who confirmed his identity to AP on Wednesday. AP does not use Sam’s name to protect Sam’s privacy.

“It’s not me. I don’t live in Texas,” Sam wrote in a Reddit post.

Authorities have not released information on the sexuality or gender of the shooter.

Arizona Parliamentarian Paul Gosar applied an unfounded claim to Ramos to one deleted tweet that misspelled his name. “It’s Salvatore Ramos, an illegal transsexual left-wing alien,” Gossar tweeted Tuesday night.

Gosar’s office did not return a message asking for comment.

In some cases, false information about mass shootings and other incidents is disseminated by well-meaning social media users who seek help. In other cases, it could be the work of a glyphter trying to launch a fake fundraiser or draw attention to their website or organization.

Then there are trolls that seem to be doing it for fun at first glance.

According to Ben Decker, founder and CEO of digital research consultancy Memetica, Fringe’s online community, including 4chan, is an opportunity to disperse mass shootings and other tragedy, disrupt the masses, and drive harmful stories. I often use it.

“Celebrating these types of incidents is also very intentional and intentional, as they influence what the mainstream conversation really is,” Decker said. “There is a nihilistic desire to prove ourselves in these types of communities by successfully vandalizing the masses. Therefore, if we can lead a campaign that leads to such results, we can trust within the group. Improves sex. “

But for communities that are blamed for such malicious online attacks, false accusations raise fears of further discrimination and violence.

Jayden Janak, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas and a junior fellow at the Center for Applied Transgender Studies, said that something that looks harmless, like Transphobia’s comments on social media, is violence against transgender people. He said it could cause action.

“These children and adults who were killed yesterday were just living their lives,” Janaku said Wednesday. time. “


Swenson reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Angelo Fichera and Karena Phan contributed to this report.

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