gateway pundit
Google's top search results for news on the Las Vegas shooting showed "false flag" 4chan forums that identified the wrong shooter and labeled the event "fake." Ben Fearnow

Threads from the website 4chan that falsely implicate a “Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow” managed to climb to the top of Google’s search results early Monday morning as news of the Mandalay Bay mass shooting flooded out from news publications.

4chan, an online forum that vigilantly and often viciously debates everything from conspiracy theories to white supremacist support, appeared in Google’s highly-sought after “Top Stories” carousel that users of the search giant are shown immediately. As Buzzfeed first pointed out via Twitter, Google searches for the subject of a now-deleted Gateway Pundit article, “Geary Danley,” showed 4chan threads as the No. 1 search result.

Google's top results displaying links to the 4chan threads -- which are exposed to millions of eyeballs worldwide within minutes -- debated if the event was "fake" even as mainstream news outlets and social media videos were showing the chaos.

A photo of the man police identified as the shooter, Stephen Paddock, 54, showed his roommate or "companion" Marilou Danley – who was also wrongfully targeted and is potentially the spouse of the man 4chan was implicating. The mass shooting posts in the 4chan “Politically Incorrect” or /pol/ thread, framed the shooting as either a “false flag” operation or violence stemming from anti-Trump groups.

Facebook posts from now-removed pages also added to the misinformation being spread. Several far right-wing pages latched onto post fake news articles seeming to report details about the shooter’s personal life as they trickled out through news outlets.

FB pages 4chan
Google's top search results for news on the Las Vegas shooting showed "false flag" 4chan forums that identified the wrong shooter and labeled the event "fake." Ben Fearnow

One thread on the Las Vegas shooting, which has now been archived and has halted replies, discusses the possibility the entire event was “a false flag to prevent the passing of the hearing act?” Many posts blast news reports from outlets such as The New York Times and the Las Vegas Review-Journal as “fake news” or pushing a “commie” agenda.

But despite the predominately fact-free discussion taking place on the forum, results for these pages appeared at the top of the number one search engine in the world.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars website immediately crafted a similar version of events, blaming the event on globalist banks, communists and ANTIFA. Jones, who was highly criticized for his denial of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, combined his conspiracy to include ISIS as the masterminds of the mass murder. The FBI has said ISIS had "no connection" to the shooter.

The commenters frequently focused their harshest words for the police officers seen responding to the incident in photos emerging across social media outlets. “Why do both of those officers look like limp wristed f*****s and why are they supporting their gun by holding the magazine well?” Google's algorithm has been the target of several high-profile hacks in the past few years that have managed to game the search giant's up-to-the-second search power to drive massive waves of traffic -- and thus revenue -- to suspect websites.

A Google spokesperson responded to Gizmodo in a statement: “Unfortunately, early this morning we were briefly surfacing an inaccurate 4chan website in our Search results for a small number of queries. Within hours, the 4chan story was algorithmically replaced by relevant results. This should not have appeared for any queries, and we’ll continue to make algorithmic improvements to prevent this from happening in the future.”