After mass shootings, survivors and victims families face a second round of attacks online and fighting back is like trying to kill roaches with a fly swatter
Mike Cronk was sitting half-naked on a street corner, hands covered in blood, when the TV news reporter approached. The 48-year-old, who had used his shirt to try to plug a bullet wound in his friends chest, recounted in a live interview how a young man he did not know had just died in his arms.
Conspiracy theorists harassed him on Facebook, sending messages like How much did they pay you? and How does it feel to be part of a hoax? The claims multiplied and soon YouTubes algorithm began actively promoting the conspiracy theory.
Two months later, Cronks online reputation appears damaged beyond repair. Type Mike Cronk into Google and YouTube, and the sites automatically suggest searches for actor and fake, leading to popular videos claiming he and his wounded friend were performers and that the Mandalay Bay tragedy that killed 58 people never happened.