Texas school shooting spawns fake Facebook profiles of gunman

Mock profiles popped up showing the alleged shooter's name alongside an antifa cover photo and a profile picture of him wearing a "Hillary 2016" hat.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read

A screenshot of one of the fake accounts created before Facebook deleted them.


Hours after a shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, trolls took to Facebook to create fake profiles for the alleged gunman.

On Friday morning, a gunman opened fire at the Texas high school, killing 10 people and wounding 10 others, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. Police arrested two people, and law enforcement sources told CBS News that one suspect was identified as 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis.

It's become customary for trolls to flood social networks with misinformation after mass shootings, often times slipping by Facebook and Twitter's moderation algorithms. Conspiracy theories stormed across Facebook and YouTube after the February high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, while trolls also took advantage of the Las Vegas mass shooting last October. Facebook has algorithms designed to delete fake accounts, as it boasted deleting 538 million fake accounts automatically in the first three months of 2018. 

But the rush of fake accounts managed to slip by Facebook's artificial intelligence on Friday, forcing the social network to play catch-up. The company is still actively deleting many fake accounts pretending to be Pagourtzis.

"We have deleted the identified shooter's account and are removing any impersonating accounts as well," the company said in a statement. 

On Facebook, multiple fake profiles were created with the suspect's name, with twists on the cover photos and profile pictures to make the profiles appear politically charged. Several showed a profile picture with a "Hillary 2016" hat edited on top along with an "Action Antifasciste" cover photo.

Other profiles popped up with a Trump 2020 campaign photo for the cover image. 

The motivation behind creating these fake profiles is convince potential victims that alleged mass shooters are politically motivated. Trolls tried the same after the mass shooting in Las Vegas by painting gunman Stephen Paddock as an Antifa member from another fake Facebook account

Before the alleged gunman's real Facebook profile was deleted, Pagourtzis had posted content with neo-Nazi imagery, according to the Daily Beast

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