On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the Uvalde, Texas school shooting is already triggering an avalanche of "horrifying" conspiracy theories across the internet.
"Unfounded claims that the gunman was an immigrant living in the U.S. illegally, or transgender, quickly emerged on Twitter, Reddit and other social media platforms. They were accompanied by familiar conspiracy theories suggesting the entire shooting was somehow staged," said the AP. "The claims reflect broader problems with racism and intolerance toward transgender people, and are an effort to blame the shooting on minority groups who already endure higher rates of online harassment and hate crimes, according to disinformation expert Jaime Longoria."
"In the hours after the shooting, posts falsely claiming the gunman was living in the country illegally went viral, with some users adding embellishments, including that he was 'on the run from Border Patrol,'" continued the report. "'He was an illegal alien wanted for murder from El Salvador,' read one tweet liked and retweeted hundreds of times. 'This is blood on Biden’s hands and should have never happened.'"
In reality, the shooter was born in North Dakota and lived in Uvalde.
"Other social media users seized on images of innocent internet users to falsely identify them as the gunman and claim he was transgender," added the report. "On the online message board 4Chan, users liberally shared the photos and discussed a plan to label the gunman as transgender, without any evidence to back it up."
While many sources have debunked these claims, many of them have still spread quickly.