Twitter cracks down on accounts accused of spreading false info after YouTube shooting

Twitter moves against accounts misidentifying YouTube shooter.

April 4, 2018, 3:25 PM

Multiple Twitter accounts appear to have been suspended or curtailed in the wake of Tuesday’s shooting at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California.

The actions come amid continued concerns over the online spread of false information that occurs on social media around shootings and other major news events, much of which involves the naming of false suspects.

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reporter Jane Lytvynenko identified numerous tweets purporting to identify the assailant in the YouTube shooting, which left four people injured. Many of the tweets, Lytvynenko pointed out, resurfaced false claims from previous mass casualty incidents; one even misidentified the shooter as Lytvynenko herself.

An ABC News analysis shows 19 of the 34 disputed tweets Lytvynenko found have been deleted, while 11 of the accounts appear to have been suspended.

Law enforcement identified the suspect as 39-year-old Nasim Aghdam, who was found dead at the scene of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. On Wednesday, San Bruno officials said her motive was believed to be dissatisfaction over YouTube’s practices and policies.

Less than two hours after the shooting was first reported on Tuesday, Twitter tweeted that it was reacting to the spread of false information.

“We are also aware of attempts by some people to deceive others with misinformation around this tragedy,” Twitter said. “We are tracking this and are taking action on anything that violates our rules.”

Requiring tweet deletion “is the approach we take during situations where misnaming someone could put those individuals in harm's way,” a Twitter spokesperson told ABC News.

“When we determine that a Tweet violated the Twitter Rules, we require the violator to delete it before they can Tweet again,” the company’s terms state. “We send an email notification to the violator identifying the Tweet(s) in violation and which policies have been violated. They will then need to go through the process of deleting the violating Tweet or appealing our review if they believe we made an error.”

Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey also responded, tweeting, “We’re tracking, learning, and taking action. We‘re working diligently on product solutions to help.”

ABC News' Dennis Powell and Samantha Reilly contributed to this report.