Orlando shooting hoax theories are already speeding across the Internet, and compared to most tragedies that conspiracy theorists try capitalizing on, it didn’t take too long.
Since news broke that ISIS sympathizer Omar Mateen shot more than 100 patrons of the Pulse Nightclub — an LGBT hotspot in Orlando — on Sunday (June 12), numerous online users have tried to explain that the whole tragedy didn’t happen.
How do they do it? It helps to have an understanding if you run into any of these people on social media, so this article will attempt to answer that question.
— James Perloff (@jamesperloff) June 16, 2016
For starters, the Orlando shooting hoax theorists believe that you can tell from some of the videos online that the whole thing is a dramatization.
One YouTube user going by the handle of Peekay Truth claims that one of the victims being carried by a group of Good Samaritans is being carried toward the Pulse Nightclub instead of from it as the footage from Russia Today would have one to believe.
Peekay believes that the footage is “all you need to see” to prove that the whole thing is false. Still, that didn’t stop him from showing a number of other clips where the “supposed victims” are being taken back toward Pulse.
So far, this one Orlando shooting hoax video has racked up more than 383,000 views.
Another conspiracy theorist going by the handle of WarriYahTruth on YouTube showed some of the same footage of a group of men carrying away one of the surviving victims (toward Pulse, the user reminds his audience), and points out more “damning” evidence.
Namely at a certain point, one of the Samaritans pulls away from the group and turns back towards one of the cameras. In the grainy shot, the theorist believes the Samaritan is smiling.
He then mentions a “hop” the Samaritan performs “like he’s happy.” You can view the Orlando shooting hoax “proof” here, but a word of warning — it’s a bit too murky to draw the definitive conclusions of the narrator.
— Brian Nolan (@BrianNolan1974) June 16, 2016
In a recurring theme that many conspiracy theorists like to bring up when talking about alleged hoaxes, some have claimed that the men in the video are “crisis actors” without offering actual evidence.
In a takedown of these conspiracy theories, the Washington Post‘s Caitlin Dewey shared an insightful boots-on-the-ground look at just how real the Pulse Nightclub shooting is, along with some of the possible reasons that people tend to try and “disprove” tragedies.
“The people who propagate these rumors… often claim that the mainstream media never listens to or addresses them,” Dewey says, acknowledging “that is largely true, because — to someone who has just dropped everything, hopped a flight to Florida and spent three days interviewing traumatized witnesses — the notion that the whole thing might be made-up is patently ridiculous.”
Beyond that, however, Dewey believes the chaos and confusion and unknowns that occur in the immediate aftermath of a mass tragedy can cause theorists’ imaginations to run wild.
JFC someone (formerly) on my feed believed the Orlando shooting was a planned hoax
(Wolfkrone agreed too) pic.twitter.com/aUNtq6lVFl
— geoff’n @ CEO (@GeoffTheHero) June 16, 2016
Essentially that is why everything from 9/11 to Sandy Hook has someone arguing that it didn’t happen.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a new thing. Conspiracy theories have been around about as long as media with the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy being among the standouts.
It only seems more prevalent now because the so-called “24/7 news cycle” never stops, and virtually anyone can publish their thoughts and blast them out to social media.
In the case of the Orlando shooting hoax, however, it’s especially odd that the theories would propagate with so many everyday people being “involved.”
What do you think about these conspiracy theorists, readers?
Do their ramblings qualify as free speech, or should more be done to curb their activities? Sound off in the comments section.