Scrolling through YouTube, one might assume the Las Vegas shooting was carried out by a member of "antifa," or perhaps government agents. That's because dozens of conspiracy theory videos—including one from Alex Jones, viewed more than 1 million times—are being promoted by YouTube in the wake of the mass shooting. As the Guardian reports, YouTube searches for "Las Vegas shooting" return clips titled "Proof Las Vegas Shooting Was a FALSE FLAG attack" and "Las Vegas 'Shooting' ... Did It Actually Happen?" According to Fast Company, five of the top 13 results in this search are for conspiracy theory videos. And victims are outraged. "When I see my wife fighting for her life with a gunshot wound to her chest … it's pretty conclusive evidence that it did happen," one man says.
YouTube, which says the videos don't violate its standards, isn't alone here. Facebook and Google also promoted conspiracies or fake news, per Media Matters. Google even listed a 4chan thread that misidentified the shooter in its top stories section, William Turton writes at the Outline. Google has blamed its algorithms for weighing "freshness" over "authoritativeness," but Turton, who sees a trend of social media sites brushing off blame, notes algorithms "are doing what they were designed to do. The problem is that they are not designed to exclude misinformation or account for bias." Indeed, the Guardian reports viewing a YouTube video suggesting the shooting was staged to change gun control laws resulted in the promotion of dozens of similar videos "painting a picture of a massive conspiracy." (Read more Las Vegas shooting stories.)