Facebook ‘Safety Check’ Pushed ‘Funny Video’ Links and Bitcoin Donations After Las Vegas Massacre
Facebook apologized for surfacing “news” posts that solicited Bitcoin handouts and sold bumper stickers on its emergency check-in page.
After the massacre in Las Vegas early Monday morning, the news section of Facebook’s emergency safety check-in feature featured primarily websites hawking bumper stickers, asking for Bitcoin donations, or reposting content from known conspiracy sites.
At press time, users would have to scroll past MyTVToday.com, TheAntiMedia.org, DennisMichaelLynch.com and RedNewsHere.com, then click “See More” before reaching an article from NBCNews.com about the largest mass shooting in American history that occurred hours earlier.
The top news story, featured in the center of the page for Facebook’s crisis response tool at 12:30 p.m., was posted by MyTVToday.com titled “Gunfire heard at mass shooting incident in Las Vegas, Nevada 10/2/17 - Funny video, Game Show, Clip hot.”
The video was uploaded by a user named “Riot Watch,” which usually uploads videos of police clashing with protesters. The video’s description, also featured on the crisis response page, provides a Bitcoin donation link. A contact email for Riot Watch did not respond to a request for comment.
MyTodayTV.com, a site that appears to have been relaunched as a YouTube video aggregator last month, also features a video titled “Was The Illuminati Involved In Las Vegas Shooting From 32nd Floor?” on its site. There is no way to contact the owner of the website, and its domain ownership is hidden by a privacy service.
Facebook apologized for the placement of the aggregated content in an email to The Daily Beast on Monday.
“Our Global Security Operations Center spotted these posts this morning and we have removed them. However, their removal was delayed, allowing them to be screen captured and circulated online,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused."
The second news story was a post by theantimedia.org titled “Who Was Las Vegas Shooter Stephen Paddock and What Was His Motive?” The story is a repost from conspiracy site ZeroHedge, and is written by the pseudonymous author Tyler Durden. (Tyler Durden is the name of Brad Pitt’s character in the ‘90s movie and book Fight Club.)
On the 16th anniversary of September 11th last month, “Durden” reposted a story on ZeroHedge by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog titled “We Need To Admit The Government Story About 9/11 Is Bullshit” that says the “official government story (of 9/11) is a ridiculous fairytale.”
The third top news story, posted by DennisMichaelLynch.com, is titled “Las Vegas shooter’s brother speaks out (Video).” The post’s description, which is visible on the Safety Check page, reads, “Support our flag. Get the bumper sticker. CLICK HERE.” The bumper sticker, available on the Lynch’s website, costs $3.99.
Facebook’s Safety Check feature was introduced by the company in October 2014 so users can “can tell your friends you're safe and check to see if they're safe, too” during a disaster or crisis. The feature alerts Facebook users who have friends who live or are marked as nearby crises.