Author Topic: Identifying fake news stories  (Read 1560 times)

Offline Mr. Bill

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Identifying fake news stories
« on: May 10, 2016, 08:12:12 PM »
Most of you are probably familiar with satirical news sites such as The Onion (theonion.com), and with the frequent reposting of their articles as if they were truth.  The Onion makes its satire fairly obvious, but there are a large number of websites which intentionally post hoax news stories and try to hide that fact, sometimes by mixing true stories with the fakes.

Here's a list of a few popular sources of totally unreliable news:

  • National Report - nationalreport.net
  • World News Daily Report - worldnewsdailyreport.com
  • Huzlers - huzlers.com
  • Empire News - empirenews.net
  • Stuppid - stuppid.com
  • News Examiner - newsexaminer.net
  • Newswatch28 & Newswatch33 - newswatch28.com & newswatch33.com
  • The Stately Harold - thestatelyharold.com
  • NewsBuzzDaily - newsbuzzdaily.com
  • Now8News - now8news.com
  • The Reporterz - thereporterz.com
  • The People's Cube - thepeoplescube.com
  • The Christian Times Newspaper - christiantimesnewspaper.com
  • fake ABC News - abcnews.com.co
  • fake NBC News - nbc.com.co

For more, see this Wikipedia article: List of Satirical News Websites

In addition to the outright hoax sites, there are a huge number of sites that post poorly-substantiated and extremely biased "news" articles, apparently to draw readership.  I'm leery of posting a list, since one person's junk site is another person's hidden truths... but in my personal opinion, the following are extremely unreliable:

  • Natural News - naturalnews.com
  • EU Times - eutimes.net
  • Any article showing "Sorcha Faal" as author
  • Superstation95 - superstation95.com (an outlet for white-nationalist and ex-felon Hal Turner)

I've also seen "news" that originates entirely in someone's imagination and ends up being presented as hard news on a mainstream site.  I wrote up details of one such incident on my blog last year:

Germanwings copilot is Muslim? How a rumor spreads

This tale started on a personal website, "St Thomas Aquinas Versus NASA", that claims God has prohibited mankind from going higher than 29,050 ft above sea level.  Within a couple of days, Gateway Pundit was announcing "GERMAN CO-PILOT WAS MUSLIM CONVERT – STAYED AT Bremen Mosque", having completely lost track of the actual origin of the rumor (as well as introducing translation errors).
« Last Edit: June 18, 2016, 06:25:50 PM by Mr. Bill »

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2016, 09:13:36 PM »
I was sure I was told that if it's on the internet it had to be true.  :spit:  :sarcasm:

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2016, 09:18:37 PM »
I'm glad to see infowars.com didn't make the list.  ;)

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2016, 09:32:42 PM »
I'm glad to see infowars.com didn't make the list.  ;)

I could start a very long list with that one. 8)

The problem is, almost every news source is, at some level, unreliable.  There may be editorial bias, or advertiser pressure, or dependence on gov't/corporate press releases, or just an intention of getting readers outraged so they'll keep coming back.

There are no sharp lines dividing hoax sites that know they're posting falsehoods, and clickbait sites that don't care whether they're posting falsehoods, and outrage sites that intentionally post only part of the story, and mainstream sites that emulate fairness by turning everything into a two-sided controversy.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to post a list of hoax sites, so folks are less likely to get suckered.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2016, 09:46:41 PM »
In my sarcastic brain I forgot to tell you thanks Mr Bill.  +1 for a great post.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 01:20:00 PM »
I've also seen "news" that originates entirely in someone's imagination and ends up being presented as hard news on a mainstream site.

And here's an article describing how and why it happens.  This example is from the Russian press, but I'm sure it applies (with different details) in other parts of the world.

How Fake Stories Reported in Russia's News Media Regularly Fool Everyone

Quote
...Every time, the method is exactly the same, and every time, unfortunately, it works: Oppps.ru writes up some “news” with some colorful quote by a famous figure and always cites a well-known media outlet (often a foreign publication). Usually it’s the BBC (sometimes it’s Deutsche Welle), and the author of these fake news stories is usually listed as the real Moscow correspondent for these news agencies, to add extra plausibility.

The pseudo-news story first appears on some backwater or specialized website, and then from there it makes its way to the “big” outlets. ... And once a news story appears in the feeds of Interfax, TASS, or RIA, it’s already been made the truth by default. ...

Then, of course, somebody gets it into their head actually to look at the real website of the foreign media outlet, and they find out that the public figure never said anything like what was reported, and maybe they didn’t even give an interview to the publication in the first place.

At about this point, Oppps.ru deletes the original “news story” from its website, and so the original source is lost. ...

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 04:57:51 PM »

Offline mgw44

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2016, 07:01:58 PM »
Read the Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.  Almost all "news" is fake and is written to sell you something. Once you start reading articles with the insight from Chet Holmes you recognize that what you are reading is an strategic effort to sell you something.  For example, every article by the Motley Fool is to lead you into their subscription service.

As another example at least one company in this article probably wrote the article and had it published on Yahoo to sell you Starbucks, or Jones soda.

https://www.yahoo.com/style/try-9-disgusting-holiday-drinks-slideshow-wp-214043963.html

Finally, all this fake news conversation and the Russia storyline is to detract you from the fact that Hillary and many of her colleagues are criminals.

From the very simple article to the very complex widespread storylines expect that you are being sold something.

mgw44

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2016, 08:53:17 PM »
Funny, I was reading this just this morning:

http://sparks-31.blogspot.com/2016/09/fake-news-sites-and-news-stories.html

Interesting tid-bit from the above link....  Notice the ".com.co" before the first slash. That's a good indication that it is a satire or fake news site.

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2017, 02:10:33 PM »
We all continue to see or hear people commenting about fake news sites.  That said, do any of you find more and more people now using this as an excuse to discount information being spread across social media?... 

What I mean is...  Information being discounted simply because it doesn't fit their own agenda?  I ask, because I've fact checked a few claims promoted by so-called fake news sites and the information actually checked out.

Just because a news site has been deemed a site for "fake news" doesn't mean that everything they share is fake.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 02:32:42 PM »
We all continue to see or hear people commenting about fake news sites.  That said, do any of you find more and more people now using this as an excuse to discount information being spread across social media?... 

What I mean is...  Information being discounted simply because it doesn't fit their own agenda? ...

Yup, continuously.

... I ask, because I've fact checked a few claims promoted by so-called fake news sites and the information actually checked out.

Just because a news site has been deemed a site for "fake news" doesn't mean that everything they share is fake.

This is tricky.  I think you have to really try to analyze what the site is doing.  (Like anyone has time for that...)

For example, there are some sites that mix truth and fakery.  Sometimes they will copy or rewrite stories from mainstream news sources, and also post completely fictional fraudulent stories on the same site.  Sometimes (especially on satire sites) they will start a story with real info and then add on a bunch of silly stuff that looks just barely believable.  Some sites are literally Russian propaganda vehicles (e.g., RT), but they need to retain an aura of respectability -- and some sites, e.g. the Washington Post, are so obviously anti-Trump it's ridiculous -- and in both cases, they'll be reporting stuff that is mostly the truth, but with certain things emphasized and other things omitted so as to fit their message.

I think it's unfortunate that the term "fake news" is being applied to merely biased news.  I'd rather see it reserved for stories that are literally complete fiction.

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2017, 02:36:57 PM »
I think it's unfortunate that the term "fake news" is being applied to merely biased news.  I'd rather see it reserved for stories that are literally complete fiction.

Agreed.

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 02:52:29 PM »
I think it's unfortunate that the term "fake news" is being applied to merely biased news.  I'd rather see it reserved for stories that are literally complete fiction.
Isn't it unfortunate those biased news outlets have been publishing complete fiction.

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2017, 03:52:19 PM »
I think it's unfortunate that the term "fake news" is being applied to merely biased news.  I'd rather see it reserved for stories that are literally complete fiction.

I agree.  There are definitely various shades of this.

To me, fake news deliberately creates stories out of whole cloth in attempt to spread what they know to be lies.

Biased news will either only report stories that further their agenda, or will spin stories in a way that someone without that same agenda wouldn't even recognize it.

Two completely different things.

For me, once I have been lied to twice, I'm pretty much out.  Biased news?  I will read it with a very large grain of salt, then search elsewhere for sources that either confirm or refute the story.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2017, 03:22:35 PM »
Chris Martensen interviews Melissa Zimdars about fake news and how to identify it: https://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/108594/melissa-zimdars-truth-about-fake-news
Links to her group's fake news list and how-to-identify guide included.  She and Chris hash it out a little over the danger of labeling something as "fake news" or "conspiracy theory" etc.  Interesting stuff.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2017, 07:58:43 PM »
Chris Martensen interviews Melissa Zimdars about fake news and how to identify it: https://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/108594/melissa-zimdars-truth-about-fake-news

Thanks, that was a good interview.

The site with the list is http://www.opensources.co/

At the moment, it's a nerdy mess to try to use their data.  The easiest way is to click Download, download the ZIP file, un-zip it, find the file sources/sources.csv, and import that into a spreadsheet.  Note that a few of the listed sites are marked "reliable", so not everything on the list is evil.

I think the most important (and least controversial) tags are "fake" and "satire".  If people merely stopped sharing stories from these sites as real, that would be a huge improvement.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2017, 08:46:33 PM »
At the moment, it's a nerdy mess to try to use their data.  The easiest way is to click Download, download the ZIP file, un-zip it, find the file sources/sources.csv, and import that into a spreadsheet.  Note that a few of the listed sites are marked "reliable", so not everything on the list is evil.
Thanks Mr. Bill.  Here's a direct link to it human-formatted at google docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10eA5-mCZLSS4MQY5QGb5ewC3VAL6pLkT53V_81ZyitM/preview
At least, I think it's all there; didn't do an exhaustive comparison.  The listing of questionable news sites is good, but the preceding list of, well, bullshit detection steps is worthwhile too.

Quote
I think the most important (and least controversial) tags are "fake" and "satire".  If people merely stopped sharing stories from these sites as real, that would be a huge improvement.
Man, that's the truth.  It's fun to sample satire (I'm getting to be a big Jonathan Pie fan after all) but for Pete's sake people, recognize it for what it is.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2017, 12:26:16 AM »
Chris Martensen interviews Melissa Zimdars about fake news and how to identify it: https://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/108594/melissa-zimdars-truth-about-fake-news
Links to her group's fake news list and how-to-identify guide included.  She and Chris hash it out a little over the danger of labeling something as "fake news" or "conspiracy theory" etc.  Interesting stuff.

I agree with the commentors over there ( peak prosperity), like AKGranny, though, that it is dangerous to label as fake. SO, I dissagree with her project.

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2017, 08:16:40 AM »
It's fun to sample satire (I'm getting to be a big Jonathan Pie fan after all) but for Pete's sake people, recognize it for what it is.

Yes, this.  I used to share posts that I believed were clearly satire, but I realized just how many people honestly thought they were real.  So now I'll click Like, but I very rarely share them anymore.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2017, 07:35:55 PM »
I agree with the commentors over there ( peak prosperity), like AKGranny, though, that it is dangerous to label as fake. SO, I dissagree with her project.
It can be dangerous, but sometimes you've just got to make the judgement call.  At least she's open with her methods and not calling for .gov to shut anybody down.  I appreciate her culling operation.  Of course, I don't take everything she and her team post as the absolute truth either.

Yes, this.  I used to share posts that I believed were clearly satire, but I realized just how many people honestly thought they were real.
Yeah Rita, not everybody out there has a finely tuned BS detector, and isn't as attuned to sorting through facts as the regulars around this place.  Just a fact of life.  Likewise, I've really dialed back on forwarding satire and jokes.  A lot of people just don't get'em, or take them too seriously.  Even forwarding the DHMO* site has gotten a few friends (who I was sure would know better) caught out red-faced.

----

*DHMO = dihydrogen monoxide = H2O = water.  It's a deliberately alarming site, completely faked up, designed to ridicule people who automatically go to "chemical bad."  Fake?  Definitely.  Satire?  Hilariously!

Offline Betsy4ever

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2017, 01:55:38 AM »
Great List Bill….i love to add thesun 

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2017, 02:31:56 PM »

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2017, 12:42:47 PM »
...To me, fake news deliberately creates stories out of whole cloth in attempt to spread what they know to be lies.

Biased news will either only report stories that further their agenda, or will spin stories in a way that someone without that same agenda wouldn't even recognize it. ...

Add to that, bad news reporting (where they use only unreliable sources, don't check their facts, don't understand the topic well enough to explain it, etc.).

There are blurry lines between these.  But [puts on moderator hat] I'd like to limit this thread, here in the General News board, to how to identify stories that are outright fiction or satire.  I'm snipping out the posts here about political bias, media ownership, etc., and merging them into the Fake News vs Real News topic in the Political Discussion board.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2017, 02:17:40 PM »
A new variant on fake news: prank news sites, which let anyone fill out a simple template and create a "news" article about anything.  These sites are typically up-front about their fakery, but some people share the prank stories without ever clicking on them to check them out.

Snopes: Prank News: What You Need to Know

Quote
There is not much that differentiates one prank news site from another. They all use similar tactics, publish similar stories, and create nearly identical links. We have built the following running list of prank news web sites that we’ve encountered:

    React365.com
    Feednewz.com
    Nwpedia.club
    prank.link
    wlinks.co
    breakingnews365.net
    breakingnews247.net
    channel22news.com
    channel45news.com
    channel24news.com
    earlyview.net

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2017, 02:14:31 PM »
NY Times is at it again with yet another fake news story about a climate change report.
The NY Times claims it was leaked a secret climate change report which it published amid fears President Trump would suppress it.

Trouble is, it wasn't leaked and had been online for anyone to see since December.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/08/08/scientists-call-out-new-york-times-for-incorrect-claim-about-climate-report.html

Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2017, 02:17:01 PM »
NY Times is at it again with yet another fake news story about a climate change report.
The NY Times claims it was leaked a secret climate change report which it published amid fears President Trump would suppress it.

Trouble is, it wasn't leaked and had been online for anyone to see since December.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/08/08/scientists-call-out-new-york-times-for-incorrect-claim-about-climate-report.html
If saying something that has been publicly available for some time and is now suddenly "new" than Fox and most right wing media engages in fake news regularly...

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #26 on: February 17, 2018, 12:34:25 PM »
Some people make a game out of the most horrible tragedies.

Politico, 2/16/18: How white nationalists fooled the media about Florida shooter

Quote
Following misrepresentations by a white nationalist leader and coordinated efforts by internet trolls, numerous researchers and media outlets spread a seemingly false claim that the man charged with killing more than a dozen people at a Florida high school belonged to an extremist group.

Law enforcement agencies say they have no evidence so far to support this claim, and the rumor appears to have been perpetrated by white nationalist trolls themselves. ...

On Wednesday, an anonymous 4chan user posted about receiving a message on Instagram from an ABC News reporter after making a joke suggesting he knew Cruz.

“Prime trolling opportunity,” another user replied.

“You have to take advantage of this,” a third chimed in. ...

This particular 4chan user seems to have sent the reporter a racist cartoon and was quickly blocked. Many on the forum ripped into him for missing a “a golden opportunity.”...

But the trolls now had a shared objective: disseminate disinformation about Cruz. It’s unclear when exactly they settled on a narrative that included Jereb and ROF.

In posts to a neo-Nazi Web forum called The Right Stuff, a user called “Jordan Fash” said the idea originated in a group chat on Discord, an app for gamers that is popular with white nationalists and the alt-right. ...

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2019, 02:40:32 PM »
How YouTube's recommendation algorithm promotes fake news.  Hint: it brings in more viewers.

HuffPost, 12/31/18: 5 Of The Wildest Conspiracy Theories YouTube Promoted In 2018

Quote
...YouTube’s algorithm “is extremely biased toward conspiracy theories. It promotes a huge amount of false information ― literally the crazier the better for the algorithm to recommend it,” said Guillaume Chaslot, who worked at Google for three years and helped design YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, but left after he found management to have “very little interest” in developing tools to recommend balanced content.

“It’s all about maximizing watch time,” Chaslot explained. “The more watch time you have, the more ads you can show the user,” which translates to more money for Google. YouTube also incentivizes content creators to keep people watching: Those with at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch-hours in a one-year period can earn money from ads.

The video giant’s dominance in the media world lends undue legitimacy to conspiracy theorists when it recommends their content, Micah Schaffer, a former YouTube policy analyst and community manager, said at a content moderation conference...

“From the point of view of the algorithm, Flat Earth conspiracy theories are a gold mine,” Chaslot said. ...

When YouTube users started typing “California fire” into the platform’s search bar, the top suggestions were “conspiracy 2018,” “agenda 21,” and “laser beam”...

QAnon followers also spread rumors that Cemex, a Mexican cement company, owned a human trafficking site in Arizona. CNN informed YouTube in August that its top autocomplete result for the search term “Cemex” was “Cemex child trafficking,” prompting the video giant to derank those videos. ...

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2019, 12:01:47 PM »
Association for Psychological Science, 8/21/19: Fake News Can Lead to False Memories

Quote
...The research was conducted in the week preceding the 2018 referendum on legalizing abortion in Ireland....

[The researchers] recruited 3,140 eligible voters online and asked them whether and how they planned to vote in the referendum. Next, the experimenters presented each participant with six news reports, two of which were made-up stories that depicted campaigners on either side of the issue engaging in illegal or inflammatory behavior. After reading each story, participants were asked if they had heard about the event depicted in the story previously; if so, they reported whether they had specific memories about it.

The researchers then informed the eligible voters that some of the stories they read had been fabricated, and invited the participants to identify any of the reports they believed to be fake. Finally, the participants completed a cognitive test.

Nearly half of the respondents reported a memory for at least one of the made-up events; many of them recalled rich details about a fabricated news story. The individuals in favor of legalizing abortion were more likely to remember a falsehood about the referendum opponents; those against legalization were more likely to remember a falsehood about the proponents. Many participants failed to reconsider their memory even after learning that some of the information could be fictitious. And several participants recounted details that the false news reports did not include. ...

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Identifying fake news stories
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2019, 01:34:10 PM »
AP, 9/5/19: False Claims Blur Line Between Mass Shootings, 2020 Politics

Quote
Minutes after media outlets identified the gunman who killed seven people in West Texas, a Twitter account that may be automated began spreading baseless information linking the shooter to Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.

"The Odessa Shooter's name is Seth Ator, a Democrat Socialist who had a Beto sticker on his truck," said the post, which also appeared on Facebook.

No such sticker was found on either of the vehicles, one a stolen mail truck, that Ator used during his rampage, according to Sgt. Oscar Villarreal, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Still, the groundless conjecture after the shooting was spread by thousands online...

The first tweet linking O'Rourke to the Odessa shooter appears to have come in shortly after 1 p.m. Central time on Sunday from an account with bot-like tendencies, said Nir Hauser, the chief technology officer for VineSight, which tracks viral misinformation trending online.

Twitter temporarily suspended the offending account Wednesday only to eventually reinstate it. ...

In the days since the shooting, the claim has continued to morph into new status updates and posts on social media. Some Facebook users posted a picture of a white truck with a "Beto 2020" sticker on the back window, saying it belonged to Ator.

That image actually came from an online retailer who sells campaign decals. ...

Unproven statements that the shooter was a "registered Democrat" also spread quickly on social media hours after the rampage. Texas voting records list the 36-year-old Ator registered as an unaffiliated voter in 2012, his most recent record. ...

In June, when 20-year-old Brandon Webber was fatally shot by U.S. marshals during an attempted arrest in Memphis, social media users erroneously circulated a photo of a man wearing a Trump shirt to claim he was the officer responsible for killing Webber. The image was actually a truck driver who frequently posts videos on YouTube. U.S. marshals have not named the officers involved in the incident. ...