Texas town mourns students, teachers killed in school shooting
Following Tuesday's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, far-fetched conspiracy theories immediately began circulating regarding the shooter's identity and why it happened.
In the hours following the breaking news, people trying to make sense of the situation took to social media hoping to find more information. But online trolls took advantage of the situation by making up false information about the shooter and specifically tried to target immigrant and transgender communities.
Here are several of the false conspiracy theories being spread - and why they are wrong.
Quickly the post made its way to the far-right website Gab and the right-wing channels of Telegram where more misinformation was disseminated until it made its way to Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook.
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The photos used to describe the shooter were that of three innocent transgender women who had posted photos on social media and had features similar to that of the confirmed shooter.
Upon learning their photos were being used, two of the women took to Twitter and Reddit to confirm they had no affiliation to the attack and were very much alive.
One of the women posted to Reddit asking people to report the fake news and inform others that she was being wrongly identified.
However, several high-profile right-wing individuals continued to spread the misinformation on their platforms including InfoWars' Alex Jones and Arizona Representative Paul Gosar.
\u201cIt's pathetic that @DrPaulGosar sought to exploit this horrific tragedy for anti-trans propaganda. There is zero evidence that the shooter is transgender.\n\nHe deleted the tweet, and now, he owes the public an apology.\u201d
— Charlotte Clymer \ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\u26a7\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Charlotte Clymer \ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\u26a7\ufe0f\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6)
Gosar deleted his tweet upon realizing the information was false. We reached out to his office for comment.
The Trans Safety Network released a statement indicating all three women were alive and targets of a smear campaign.
The shooter was identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos. He was killed while exchanging gunfire with Border Patrol agents who responded to the school shooting. There is no evidence Ramos was a transgender person.
2. The shooter was an undocumented migrant
Several posts in right-wing Telegram channels and on Gab spread lies that the shooter was an undocumented immigrant.
On Twitter, both Gosar and a nonprofit organization dedicated to veterans called Code of Vets posted indicating the shooter was an undocumented immigrant even though no evidence contributed to the claim.
"Did he cross the border illegally? Our nation has a serious national security crisis evolving. God help us," the Code of Vets Twitter account wrote.
Later on, the account tweeted, "In the moment I asked if he crossed the border illegally given the proximity to border & shots fired by border patrol. When I learned he was a citizen I posted the update. Our border is an issue. Mental health is an issue."
Government officials have confirmed Ramos was a US citizen born in North Dakota and was living in Uvalde, Texas.
3. The shooter's social media is still online featuring disturbing messages
As soon as the shooter was identified as Ramos, the 18-year-old's social media accounts were deactivated - but that did not stop people from making accounts posting as the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed that Ramos had posted concerning things on social media prior to the massacre.
Ramos posted a 'wish list' of assault rifles on his Instagram account a year prior to the shootings. Three days before the shooting, Ramos posted to his Instagram a photo of the assault rifles used in the mass shooting.
Abbott also said Ramos used Facebook to write his intentions to kill people with the guns however a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook's parent company, said the messages were private one-to-one.
In the messages, Ramos told another person he was going to kill his grandmother, then said he had shot her.
Although Ramos' original accounts have been suspended, people have made Instagram using a similar username to Ramos.
\u201cAnother disturbing trend: People make fake @instagram accounts to get views when something tragic happens, the same is happening right now with the #SalvadorRamos\naccount.\u201d
On far-right social media, people conspired that the shooting was staged by the government.
On Facebook and Twitter, people circulated the conspiracy that government agencies such as the CIA staged the shooting to draw law-enforcement officers away from the US-Mexico border in order to allow undocumented immigrants into the country.
Uvalde is less than 80 miles from the US-Mexico border.
Other people said the shooting was staged to allow gun-control advocates to spark outrage among US citizens.
There is no evidence that the Robb Elementary School shooting was a 'false flag'.