The ghastly shooting at Youtube’s headquarters that came up as a rude shock for people all over the world, becomes the subject of controversy after the Twitter account of a live tweeter who fled the shooting was hacked and spammed briefly with fraudulent posts.
Within an hour of tweeting that he was safe during the infamous active shooting at YouTube’s headquarters, Vadim Lavrusik’s account was infiltrated by malicious hackers.
Lavrusik is a product manager at YouTube, who sent out one of the first tweets about the active shooting at the office in San Bruno, Calif., at 12:57 p.m PT. His tweet stated that “Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded in a room with co-workers,”. However, as per the statement made by San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini at a press conference on Tuesday, the first 911 call for the shooting was made minutes before his tweet at 12:46 p.m. PT, and the police responded immediately by arriving in two minutes.
Next, Lavrusik tweeted about his safe evacuation at roughly about 2:10 p.m., but shortly after a new tweet surfaced from his account,
PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY FRIEND I LOST HIM IN THE SHOOTING
Problematically, this hoax tweet surfaced with a Flipboard URL link leading to a photo of Daniel “Keemstar” Keem, (who is a provocative YouTube video creator), as the identity of the shooter. This sparked controversy as Keem has been active on Twitter throughout the shooting, while also giving no indication all the same that he was at the scene of the incident.
Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers.
— Vadim Lavrusik (@Lavrusik) April 3, 2018
The notorious hackers did not stop here as another tweet came up after three minutes of that tweet, saying, “my name is so gay honestly.”
Although Twitter immediately responded to this hack attack as the tweets were quickly deleted with no new spam tweets from Lavrusik’s account since then, but “see new tweets” continued to flash on his account and then disappear when clicked. Flipboard kept tight-lipped when asked for comment on the hoax tweet involving “Keemstar”.
We’re also aware of the misinformation being spread on Twitter. We’re tracking, learning, and taking action. We‘re working diligently on product solutions to help. https://t.co/V8vmxgFkmR
— jack (@jack) April 3, 2018
Jack Dorsey, TheTwitter of CEO promptly tweeted that the social network was immediately working to fix the account hijacking issue.
Responding to requests for commenting on the issue, Twitter redirected to a tweet-it post stating “We are also aware of attempts by some people to deceive others with misinformation around this tragedy. We are tracking this and are taking action on anything that violates our rules.”
Eventually, Lavrusik tweeted at 4:35 p.m. PT that the hack had been fixed thereby restoring his account and also thanked Dorsey for the prompt action.
However, the controversy didn’t die down here as this hoax led to a spate of false accusations leveled at others, such as comedian Sam Hyde and critic Anita Sarkeesian. Hyde is frequently the target person of hoaxers as the shooter, and Twitter accounts quickly began spreading the false claim that he was involved in the crime, supporting their claim by sharing photoshopped images. However, the claim is fraudulent as per the police who stated that the suspected shooter was a female reportedly, and has died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The next hoax named the cultural critic and firebrand feminist Anita Sarkesian as the shooter. Sarkesian has been a frequent target of online harassment and right-wing attacks. But there is no evidence brought up to support this claim as the police have not made the identity of the shooter public.