- Hoaxes and disinformation are spreading in the aftermath of a shooting at YouTube’s offices in San Bruno, California.
- The Twitter account of a YouTube employee who fled the shooting was hacked to tweet out a hoax, alleging that a popular YouTube celebrity was on the scene.
- Social media users have also falsely accused others of being behind the shooting, including comedian Sam Hyde and critic Anita Sarkeesian.
SAN FRANCISCO – A YouTube employee who fled the company’s head office during a shooting on Tuesday had his Twitter account hacked to spread a hoax about the identity of the shooter.
In the wake of a mass shooting in America, it’s become common for hoaxes and misinformation to spread on social media, and the incident at YouTube’s office in San Bruno, California is no exception. Anonymous accounts repeatedly made false claims about the identity of the shooter – who has not yet been named – and blaming it on liberal political thinkers or prominent social media influencers, among other false claims.
Vadim Lavursik, a product manager at YouTube, was at the office at the time of the shooting. “Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers,” he tweeted on Tuesday, before following up to confirm he was safely outside the building.
His account was hacked not long after, and sent the tweet “PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY FRIEND I LOST HIM IN THE SHOOTING” – linking to a photo of Daniel “Keemstar” Keem, a provocative YouTube video creator. Keem has been active on Twitter throughout the shooting, and has given no indication he was at the scene.
Lavurusik’s account then followed up with another tweet: “my name is so gay honestly.”
— Ken Schwencke (@schwanksta) April 3, 2018
Both tweets were later deleted. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey soon responded to the hacking incident, saying“we’re on it.”
This is far from the only misinformation spreading about the shooting. Comedian Sam Hyde is frequently named by hoaxers as the shooter in the aftermath of shootings, and Twitter accounts quickly began spreading the claim that he was involved and sharing sometimes-photoshopped images.
There is zero evidence of this, and police have said the suspected shooter, who has died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, was female.
San Bruno police later identified the suspected shooter as 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam of San Diego, California.
Another hoax alleged that cultural critic and outspoken feminist Anita Sarkesian, a frequent target of online harassment and right-wing attacks, was the shooter. Again, there is no evidence of this – the police have not given the identity of the shooter.
One person is dead and several have been injured as a result of the shooting. The deceased is a woman with apparently self-inflicted gunshot wounds, police have said.
In a statement, Twitter said: “We are also aware of attempts by some people to deceive others with misinformation around this tragedy. We are tracking this and are taking action on anything that violates our rules.”
The two accounts listed above have since been deleted or removed.