Someone hacked a YouTube employee's Twitter account to spread misinformation about the shooting

  • Hoaxes and disinformation are spreading in the aftermath of a shooting at YouTube's offices in San Bruno, California.
  • The Twitter account of a YouTube employee who fled the shooting was hacked to tweet out a hoax, alleging that a popular YouTube celebrity was on the scene.
  • Social media users have also falsely accused others of being behind the shooting, including comedian Sam Hyde and critic Anita Sarkeesian.

SAN FRANCISCO — A YouTube employee who fled the company's head office during a shooting on Tuesday had his Twitter account hacked to spread a hoax about the identity of the shooter.

In the wake of a mass shooting in America, it's become common for hoaxes and misinformation to spread on social media, and the incident at YouTube's office in San Bruno, California is no exception. Anonymous accounts repeatedly made false claims about the identity of the shooter — who has not yet been named — and blaming it on liberal political thinkers or prominent social media influencers, among other false claims. 

Vadim Lavursik, a product manager at YouTube, was at the office at the time of the shooting. "Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers," he tweeted on Tuesday, before following up to confirm he was safely outside the building.

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Shooting at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California
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Shooting at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California
YouTube employees are seen walking away from Youtube headquarters following an active shooter situation in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Yellow tarp seen at YouTube HQ as police continue searching for shooter (@KTVU) https://t.co/bwTLj8Ewgf
A police officer and crime scene markers are seen at Youtube headquarters following an active shooter situation in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police walk outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police walk outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, UNITED STATES - APRIL 3: Security measures are taken after security forces responded to an active shooter at YouTube's California headquarters in San Bruno, California, United States on April 3, 2018. A woman shot and wounded at least four people before possibly taking her own life at YouTube's California headquarters Tuesday, according to police. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Police officers are seen at Youtube headquarters following an active shooter situation in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police officers stand by in front of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police officers stand by in front of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police officers stand by in front of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police in tactical gear walk outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. A woman opened fire at the facility, wounding four people before taking her own life, according to authorities. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police in tactical gear walk outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. A woman opened fire at the facility, wounding four people before taking her own life, according to authorities. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
We are seeing @YouTube employees being brought out with hands up! https://t.co/ZlSMY9FIVm
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police look on as employees walk across the streer outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. A woman opened fire at the facility, wounding four people before taking her own life, according to authorities. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Law enforcement stands watch outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Media gather outside during an active shooting at YouTube's offices in San Bruno, California on April 3, 2018. Gunshots erupted at YouTube's offices in California Tuesday, sparking a panicked escape by employees and a massive police response.Some media reports said several people were injured. San Bruno police warned on Twitter to stay away from the area housing the headquarters of the Google-owned video sharing service near San Francisco. / AFP PHOTO / Josh Edelson (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
The offices of YouTube are seen in the distance outside after an active shooting at YouTube's offices in San Bruno, California on April 3, 2018. Gunshots erupted at YouTube's offices in California Tuesday, sparking a panicked escape by employees and a massive police response, before the shooter -- a woman -- apparently committed suicide.Police said three people had been hospitalized with gunshot injuries following the shooting in the city of San Bruno, and that a female suspect was found dead at the scene. 'We have one subject who is deceased inside the building with a self-inflicted wound,' San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini told reporters. 'At this time, we believe it to be the shooter.' / AFP PHOTO / Hand-Out / Josh Edelson (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Law enforcement stands watch outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, UNITED STATES - APRIL 3: Security measures are taken after police officers responded to an active shooter at YouTube's California headquarters in San Bruno, California, United States on April 3, 2018. The San Bruno Police Department urged people to stay away from the building, located at Cherry Ave and Bay Hill Drive. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, UNITED STATES - APRIL 3: Security measures are taken after police officers responded to an active shooter at YouTube's California headquarters in San Bruno, California, United States on April 3, 2018. The San Bruno Police Department urged people to stay away from the building, located at Cherry Ave and Bay Hill Drive. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police walk outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: San Bruno police chief Ed Barberini speaks to members of the media outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: Police survey the scene outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, CA - APRIL 03: San Bruno police chief Ed Barberini speaks to members of the media outside of the YouTube headquarters on April 3, 2018 in San Bruno, California. Police are investigating an active shooter incident at YouTube headquarters that has left at least one person dead and several wounded. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN BRUNO, UNITED STATES - APRIL 3: Security measures are taken after police officers responded to an active shooter at YouTube's California headquarters in San Bruno, California, United States on April 3, 2018. The San Bruno Police Department urged people to stay away from the building, located at Cherry Ave and Bay Hill Drive. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
San Mateo County SWAT team officers are seen near Youtube headquarters following an active shooter situation in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Law enforcement officers are seen near a patio with crime scene markers at Youtube headquarters following an active shooter situation in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Burlingame police chief Eric Wollman pets Kimba while bringing him to his owner following an active shooter situation at Youtube headquarters in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A fire engine is seen outside Youtube headquarters following an active shooter situation in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Burlingame police chief Eric Wollman hands off Kimba to his owner following an active shooter situation at Youtube headquarters in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018. According to his owner, Kimba was present when the shooting occurred. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
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His account was hacked not long after, and sent the tweet "PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY FRIEND I LOST HIM IN THE SHOOTING" — linking to a photo of Daniel "Keemstar" Keem, a provocative YouTube video creator. Keem has been active on Twitter throughout the shooting, and has given no indication he was at the scene.

Lavurusik's account then followed up with another tweet: "my name is so gay honestly."

Both tweets were later deleted. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey soon responded to the hacking incident, saying "we're on it."This is far from the only misinformation spreading about the shooting. Comedian Sam Hyde is frequently named by hoaxers as the shooter in the aftermath of shootings, and Twitter accounts quickly began spreading the claim that he was involved and sharing sometimes-photoshopped images.

sam hyde youtube shooting hoax(Twitter)

There is zero evidence of this, and police have said the suspected shooter, who has died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, was female.

anita sarkeesian youtube shooting hoax(Twitter)

Another hoax alleged that cultural critic and outspoken feminist Anita Sarkesian, a frequent target of online harassment and right-wing attacks, was the shooter. Again, there is no evidence of this — the police have not given the identity of the shooter. 

One person is dead and several have been injured as a result of the shooting. The deceased is a woman with apparently self-inflicted gunshot wounds, police have said.

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

The two accounts listed above have since been deleted or removed.

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