While sites like Google, Twitter, and Facebook spent much of 2017 combatting the spread of fake news on their platforms, it was ineffective at the worst possible time: after the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas in October.
Shortly after the shooting took place, viral fake-news stories showed up across the popular social media platforms, and even landed at the top of Google Search results. A 4chan message board about the shooting hit the top of Google's Top Stories, which is not vetted by humans.
The 4chan board posts were quickly picked up by far-right website The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that has spread misinformation in the past. The story went viral.
It wasn't just Google, though: On its "safety check" page, Facebook linked to a story on a self-proclaimed alt-right blog that suggested the festival was "more like the kind of target a left-wing nutjob would choose." And on Twitter, users like the far-right provocateur Laura Loomer went viral by stoking speculation that Islamic terror groups were responsible for the shooting.
In a statement to Business Insider at the time, a Google representative said the link to 4chan was algorithmically removed within several hours of it appearing, and both Facebook and Twitter said they were reviewing and removing those types of posts.