According to Buzzfeed tech reporter Ryan Mack, “Someone just hacked the account of a YouTube employee who had survived and was tweeting about the shooting.” And asked rhetorically, “Who the fu*k would do this.”
Within a few minutes of the shooting, Vadim Lavrusik began to live tweet what was happening. The tweets appeared to be legitimate until it was clear some were not:
Lavrusik asked in a tweet for help finding a friend. Whether that’s legitimate is unclear.
Lavrusik is in product development at YouTube, is founder of Frisbeechat, was a product manager at Facebook (Live & Facebook Mentions), and worked with the New York Times and Mashable, according to his Twitter profile.
Hoaxes and hackings are part of the territory now, especially in mass shooting situations. So much so there’s an entire feed of hoaxes on Twitter.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sam Hyde Is Not the Shooter
Moments not minutes, after the shooting was reported, Sam Hyde was named as the shooter. Sam Hyde is a comedian, arguably, and has been identified as the shooter in a number of mass casualty incidents. And it’s not funny. The New York Times reported in November of 2017 that Congressman Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas “fell for a long-running hoax” when he told CNN following the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting that the gunman was “Sam Hyde, that was the name I was given.”
Hyde is real. His right-leaning nonsensical humor has been named in countless shooting events, so many that he’s a meme.
2. ‘Internet Gaming Hero’ Does Not Have a Missing Autistic Brother
Some folks crave attention so desperately they’ll stoop pretty low. Like Twitter user ‘Internet Gaming Hero’ who posted a photo of a young man and described him as his autistic brother missing in the chaos of the shooting and begged for help finding him.
The person who hacked Lavrusik’s Twitter account similarly posted that a friend was missing and even linked to a Flipboard photo of a guy with a ‘Fuel’ baseball cap.
But ‘Internet Gaming Hero’ did not stop with tweets about a missing brother.
He identified the shooter as Evan McLaren, Executive Director at the National Policy Institute and deputy editor of AltRight.com.
3. A YouTuber Posted a Conspiracy & Hoax Video About the Shooting Minutes Afterward
Chirs Dorsey, the “Commander of the Virginia & Maryland Militia” posted a 5-minute video, his ‘Militia Intelligence Report #2″ claiming the incident was staged. Dorsey, who has 103 subscribers, has posted similar conspiracy videos following mass casualty incidents, and did so today making ant-Semitic remarks and suggested the shooting was the “Jewish-controlled Government’s Staged False Flag Shooting.”
4. First Reports Said the Shooter Was a Woman in a Headscarf Which Led to Anti-Islamist Conspiracy Theories
One Twitter user said that hearing the female suspect wore a headscarf was concerning. “This is a scary time, we don’t need you pushing your anti-Muslim views via small sly comments about what she was wearing rather than whether or not people are okay.”
On 4Chan, perhaps not surprisingly, a poster said, “Shooter confirmed for transgender Muslim YouTube employee.”
5. Debunking Hoaxes Not as Popular as One Might Think
Buzzfeed’s Jane Lytvynenko began to amass a running list of hoaxes.
And people were apparently not happy about it.
Others were just not having the outrageous hoaxes perpetrated on Twitter that included claims that family members were victims. Many people fell victim to this tweet and shared their concern for this person’s grandfather. With 60 likes, 18 re-tweets, 30 comments mostly messages of condolence and offerings of thoughts and prayers, the joke was not that.