Fake news circulating after Las Vegas shooting

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- During times of tragedy, getting information out is important, but it's even more important to share the right information.

Since Sunday night, mass amounts of social media posts have been pouring in, most of which are for the City of Las Vegas.

At UT's Social Media Command Center, Graduated Teaching Assistant Brandon Boatwright told Local 8 News most of the posts come from a place of love, but they can also present falsehoods as truth.

"It was really quick to tell through social studio, there is misinformation being spread," said Boatwright.

Buzzfeed published an article exposing hoaxes circulating the web. One example given was a tweet reading that the comedian Sam Hyde was the suspect. In reality, investigators said Stephen Paddock was responsible for the shooting.

The Associated Press reported Paddock could be affiliated with ISIS. Federal authorities later ruled that out. That was not surprising to former FBI special agent Steven Fisher.

"People don't hesitate to put that out and take their best shot as a guess, maybe in hopes of being the one that called it right the earliest," he said.

But being right is of the utmost priority, according to UT Senior Lecturer Melanie Faizer.

"We've grown so accustomed to instant gratification, and social media hasn't helped. That's made the problem worse," said Faizer.

Ideas like "fake news" bring up important topics in the world of journalism. It's something that's discussed in Faizer's most recent article, "How to Bring Mindfulness Into a Journalism Curriculum."

"I think there are always people who will spread fake news that can be debunked. I question the need for us to know something about every incremental detail that happens in an investigation. Sometimes it might just be better to wait 'til we know for sure rather than to speculate," she said.

Not all the posts circulating since Sunday have been bad, though. According to the Media Command Center, 60 percent of the posts on social media were sharing sentiment, such as support for the people involved in the Las Vegas shooting.

Boatwright said it also helps people using social media communicate and keep their loved ones updated.

If you are trying to connect with a loved one in Las Vegas, you can call 866-535-5654.