Things like the Las Vegas shooting reveal that there is something seriously wrong with the psyche of many people in the US. I am not talking about their deep love of guns and the paranoid fear that many have that they are defenseless unless armed to the teeth with massive weaponry, even though such heavy weaponry is overkill for any ordinary everyday need and utterly inadequate when confronting (say) the US military, which some gun enthusiasts feel is on the verge of declaring martial law.
What I am talking about is the desire of people to create stories such as that the Las Vegas shooting was a hoax. This was also done following the massacre of children and adults in the Sandy Hook elementary school, in Orlando, and indeed after any mass shooting in recent times. While it is not clear how many people actually believe that the events are staged, the YouTube statistics indicate that many people seem to at least find such stories worth reading.
It appears YouTube is actively helping these videos reach wide audiences. Searching for “Las Vegas shooting videos” immediately leads to a wide range of viral videos suggesting that law enforcement and others have purposefully deceived the public. Some label the tragedy a “false flag”, a term conspiracy theorists typically use to refer to mass shootings they say are staged by the government to advance gun control.
One video on the first page of results on the Google-owned video platform Wednesday morning was called Las Vegas ‘Shooting’ … Did It Actually Happen? and questioned whether the attack was “fake” and if victims were “actors”. It had more than 250,000 views after one day on the site.
After the Guardian watched one questionable video highlighted on the main Las Vegas shooting search page (from a gun rights advocate suggesting the facts didn’t add up), YouTube promoted: “Government Staged Las Vegas Mass Shooting” (215,000 views), “PROOF: MEDIA & LAW ENFORCEMENT ARE LYING ABOUT THE VEGAS SHOOTING” (660,000 views) and “PROOF Las Vegas shooting FALSE FLAG hoax” (70,000 views). The site automatically played a “Las Vegas HOAX Exposed” video (150,000 views).
Is this just merely a vicious cycle at work, in that some people love to get viewers for their YouTube posts and thus make up this stuff, which in turn leads others to think that there being so many such clips must mean that there is something there and hence increases the readership and thus the demand for more?
One has to feel a deep sense of sympathy for the victims of these tragedies now having to deal with the crazies who are suggesting that they are merely playacting. We have seen how some believers in these conspiracies hounded some bereaved parents of dead children following Sandy Hook. We can expect survivors of Las Vegas to have to now endure this same level of hurtful nonsense.
Trevor Noah discusses the problem of these stories spreading via social media.