Las Vegas shooting survivors condemn YouTube for promoting 'hoax' videos

'When I see my wife fighting for her life with a gunshot wound to her chest, and my daughter was also shot, it’s pretty conclusive evidence that it did happen'

A police officer stands in front of the Route 91 music festival site where the mass shooting took place
A police officer stands in front of the Route 91 music festival site where the mass shooting took place

Las Vegas shooting survivors have spoken of their horror at discovering YouTube has been promoting conspiracy theory videos labelling the assault on festival-goers a hoax.

Just days after gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest festival, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 more, hundreds of videos discrediting the events continue to proliferate on the site.

A cursory search for "Las Vegas shooting videos" on the site found one titled "Las Vegas Shooting Conspiracy? Viral Video Challenges Official Story" with 50,000 views on the first page of results.

Another titled "Las Vegas Shooting Narrative Debunked In 3 Videos" has more than 250,000 views and asked: "What is the media hiding?"

Stephen Melanson, whose wife and daughter were shot in the attack, called for YouTube to immediately take down the videos.

"When I see my wife fighting for her life with a gunshot wound to her chest, and my daughter was also shot, it’s pretty conclusive evidence that it did happen,” he told the Guardian.

Some of the conspiracy videos found with a cursory search on YouTube

"My daughter texted me … ‘There is a shooting right in front of us’ and another text said, ‘Mom is shot.’"

Another survivor, Krista Metz, said: "It’s not a conspiracy. It’s not a joke. It did happen. I was there...we literally thought we were going to die."​

YouTube is not the only site to be embroiled in controversy. Its parent company Google was also widely condemned after actively promoting blogs and conspiracy sites in the wake of the shooting that misidentified the gunman.

Facebook was also accused of proliferating the spread of fake news in relation to the shooting, despite taking measures in recent months to combat the problem in the wake of the 2016 US election.

It comes just weeks after Prime Minister Theresa May ordered YouTube to remove extremist propaganda from the site within an hour to reduce the danger of it inspiring further atrocities.

Her comments followed a damning report by Labour MP Yvette Cooper that found extremist footage posted by Islamists and neo-Nazis was still on the site despite it being flagged repeatedly to monitors.

One video that had been flagged but was still available on the site was entitled “Adolf Hitler was right”, another showed a Muslim man being attacked and Taliban propaganda was also found on the world’s second most-viewed website.

YouTube told the Guardian that a number of specific conspiracy videos did not violate its terms and conditions. The website said videos by trusted news publishers were promoted separately under the label "Top News".

The Independent has contacted YouTube for comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in