Why People Believe Crazy Stuff

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Hoaxes spread immediately after Las Vegas massacre

A lone gunman killed at least 59 and injured hundreds in Las Vegas. It took mere hours for a hoax to go from internet message board 4chan to Gateway Pundit, a frequently wrong right-wing blog given White House press credentials by the Trump administration.

Gateway Pundit’s White House correspondent would later defend sharing the hoax while appearing on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ YouTube channel; Sean Hannity later in the week cited Gateway Pundit in sharing a different Las Vegas conspiracy theory. Soon there were even more conspiracy theories, many of which were also started on internet message boards.

And while these conspiracy theories have always been around, the difference now is how quickly they reach a mass audience.

An NRA board member gave credence to Jones’ conspiracy theories. Prominent right-wing media figures like Matt Drudge and new Fox News host Laura Ingraham helped to elevate Las Vegas conspiracy theories.

And perhaps no one helped these conspiracy theories spread more than tech industry giants Facebook, Google, and YouTube.

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