Fake Photo of Waukesha Suspect Spreads on Social Media Police canvass the streets in downtown Waukesha, Wisconsin, after a vehicle plowed into a Christmas parade hitting multiple people Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (Jeffrey Phelps/AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 22 November 2021 09:16 AM
False information about the Sunday tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has circulated on social media.
A speeding red SUV plowed through barriers and into a Christmas parade leaving five people dead and at least 40 injured, Waukesha police said.
Police announced that a "person of interest" was in custody, though the person's name or details about the person had not been divulged.
Some Twitter posts claimed the driver was Sam Hyde, a comedian who has been the subject of a long-running hoax that identifies him as the perpetrator following mass killings in the U.S., Newsweek reported.
"They are blaming #SamHyde again," SenorWhyMe tweeted with a photo of Hyde driving a red vehicle and another from Sunday’s parade.
An editor for The Post Millennial posted a tweet showing that the image of Hyde in a red vehicle had been doctored to change the vehicle's color from silver.
"Internet trolls are spreading disinformation about the #Waukesha driver with a photoshopped image of Sam Hyde, who's often misreported as the perpetrator of mass killings, in a red car. The long-running hoax resurfaces after tragedies," editor Mia Cathell tweeted.
Hyde gained notoriety for mocking TED Talk – which posts talks online for free distribution under the slogan "ideas worth spreading" — but since has become known for the "Sam Hyde is the shooter" meme, Newsweek reported.
"Congressman repeats #SamHyde hoax on @cnn." JW Watch tweeted after Rep. Vincente Gonzalez, D-Texas, told CNN that Hyde’s name had been reported as the shooter in a 2017 shooting at a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church.
Some people on social media blasted others for spreading fake news.
"Seeing speculation and blatant misinformation being spread about #Waukesha together with graphic video of the incident," Christian Christensen, an American who is a professor of journalism at Stockholm University, tweeted.
"Sharing graphic videos from #Waukesha is not ‘informing’ anyone and there is zero ‘news value.’ It’s just cheap clickbait posted at the expense of the dignity of the people injured and their families.”
The Associated Press, citing a law enforcement source, reported that investigators were examining whether the person who drove the SUV through the Christmas parade may have been fleeing from a crime when he crashed into the paradegoers.