WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - They were the posts that flooded social media in the wake of the Vegas shooting.
“I remember reading some stuff this morning on social media saying there were three people that had been pegged as the shooter,” says Criminology Professor Lincoln Sloas.
From a plea for help finding a dad who went missing after the shooting, to a Tweet identifying the shooter as a 32-year-old Islamic convert, post after post proved to be false.
“That can affect people's lives, if we're putting out false information,” Sloas says.
It's not only frustrating, it can ruin investigations for law enforcement.
“If they're investigating all these false news stories, their efforts being maybe not used appropriately,” Sloas says.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says he has an intelligence gathering network dedicated to stop that from happening.
“They take out what they believe is actionable information and then try to filter out what they believe is something that's on there to try to either mislead us or just people that are getting on there just to put bogus information on,” Sheriff Bradshaw says.
With all the ugly that comes with inter-connectivity, social media expert Debra Tendrich says there is also an upside.
“Global unity through social media is a big positive impact that it brings,” she says.
Hashtags like #PrayingForVegas and #StopTheHate are trending on social media.
Facebook is letting users check in to let family know they're safe.
And fundraisers, like this one set up by a Las Vegas commissioner, have already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from total strangers.
“I think it does add a lot more positive value than negative in the long run,” Tendrich says.
Experts advise you to remain skeptical.
Check the account that shared the info, and do your own part to double check the info before you share it on Facebook and Twitter.