Following the horrific news out of Santa Fe, Texas that a student killed 10 and injured 10 more with two guns at Santa Fe High School, the social media machine is already churning. Even though reliable information from trusted journalistic sources is readily available, hoaxes have also begun circulating online because the world can be a horrible place.
Not only are these conspiracy theories obviously false and incredibly disrespectful to the families who have lost loved ones, they are also the work of bad faith social media users who insist on spreading misinformation to advance political and social agendas. Daily Dot rounded up some of the most alarming hoaxes to be aware of as news of the shooting trickles out.
Police have now identified the shooter as 17-year-old Dimitros Pagourtzis. Authorities also claimed that there were no warning signs except for a series of disturbing photos recently posted to his Facebook account. As soon as links of the shooter’s social media page began circulating, some used the opportunity to politicize the shooting and claim that the student posted a photo wearing a Hillary Clinton hat and that he supported Antifa. The photos are clearly photoshopped and a quick look at the user’s real Facebook page disproves this theory.
Someone's trying really hard to make this happen. Both of these went up in the past few minutes pic.twitter.com/X5gsAmQOgH— Brooke Binkowski (@brooklynmarie) May 18, 2018
Another infuriatingly common hoax that happens nearly every time a school shooting occurs (which happens at the rate of once a week on average in 2018, per CNN) is claims that say the shooting was made up. Noted conspiracy theorist and horrible human being Alex Jones previously claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre was a government hoax, and people have followed in his path ever since.
Santa fe hoax shooting was at 7:45am— Ιησούς-Jesus-Saves (@IisousJesus) May 18, 2018
The lessons begin at 9:15am, yet children were in class, having lessons? 🤔😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/EkW4aH07Th
This time, people used a fake school starting time to suggest the shooting, which Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said happened between 7:30 am and 8 am local time, was fake. This one is especially annoying, since it’s so easy to fact check by heading to the school’s website. In addition, students reported that the shooting happened early in the school day, during "first period."
Some 4chan users doubted the shooting since they claimed Senator Rand Paul’s nephew was the principal of Santa Fe High School until “a few months ago.”
Another incomprehensible conspiracy theory that follows many mass shootings is that the people involved are crisis actors. Some Santa Fe students gave media interviews, and some criticized them online for how they appeared on camera.
Is she reading from a script?— PatriotSwag.net (@MAGATheBrand) May 18, 2018
She's obviously reading from a script. Who talks to a TV camera with their face down? Don't be so gullible.— PatriotSwag.net (@MAGATheBrand) May 18, 2018
The students who survived the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida became vocal about their desire to never have a school shooting happen again and were met with vitriol. Some of this abuse included, but is not limited to: survivor David Hogg being called a crisis actor and an FBI plant; a Republican House of Representatives candidate calling survivor Emma Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian”; Fox News’ Laura Ingraham making fun of Hogg for not getting into certain colleges.
It should be noted that there are also amazingly stupid people in apparent positions of power who give dubious statements at times like this. Take, for example, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s incredible suggestion that the reason shootings happen is because there are too many entrances and exits in school buildings. It’s not a hoax, but the general idea is to use your common sense in times like these.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says there are too many entrances and exits to schools, and that is why shootings are able to happen. "Had there been one single entrance possibly for every student, maybe he would have been stopped."— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) May 18, 2018