Gateway Pundit later deleted the article, but the 4chan threads centered around Mr Danley were promoted as "top stories" by Google around searches for his name, and a similar article published by blog End Times Headlines were promoted within the Safety Check page for the incident.
Those numbers would make this the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
The senseless slaughter at a concert in Las Vegas this week was a chance for a beleaguered Silicon Valley to prove how its products can help connect anxious loved ones and provide up-to-date news during tragedies.
Meanwhile on YouTube, top search results for Stephen Paddock - the real gunman - were already contaminated with conspiracy theories disseminated by 4Chan and amplified by Google, which painted the shooter as a "radical democrat terrorist", who was "most likely Anti Trump extreme left".
Hundreds of millions of people get their news from Google and Facebook, and fake news propagating on these platforms with no human intervention and no immediate response in case of mistakes will only worsen the culture of misinformation across the internet.More news: Facebook: 10 million people saw ads linked to Russian Federation
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A Facebook user looking for news about the Las Vegas shooting on Monday morning, or a Google user searching for information about the wrongfully accused shooter, would have found posts from 4Chan and Sputnik alongside articles by established news organizations like CNN and NBC News, with no obvious cues to indicate which ones came from reliable sources. His personal photos, taken from Facebook, were still plastered all over the page.
"Unfortunately, early this morning we were briefly surfacing an inaccurate 4chan websites in our Search results for a small number of queries", Google said in a statement. That's right, a story with unverified sources and unsubstantiated claims made it onto trending lists made it to the top of the pile on two of the world's biggest news sites because it was picked up by their algorithms. "Within hours, the 4chan story was algorithmically replaced by relevant results", Google said in a statement, as cited by Gizmodo.
The falsehoods aren't only about the shooter, his associations and motivations, however.
Facebook said its security staff had seen the post and removed it. As with Google, Facebook was able to take down the false reports from showing up on its platform, but it was too late. "We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused", Fast Company quoted the social media giant as saying. Then the false reports of "missing" people started popping up, Buzzfeed reported.
Facebook said Monday that the social media company saw more than 2,800 posts offering help to victims of the shooting and dozens of posts asking for assistance, including in locating loved ones.