In the first hours of the Sandy Hook shooting speculation about what happened ran rampant on Twitter. News organizations began reporting any tidbit of information as fact. Incorrect information spread as “confirmed,” including that Lanza was the father of a student, that it was Adam’s brother, Ryan, and that there was a second shooter. Business Insider, in their article shaming organizations for not being more careful, admits they “reported some of this inaccurate information, attributing it to other news sources.”
Forbes created a breakdown of how the information about Ryan made its way across social media. First, through the media incorrectly posting his photo on their pages and newscasts, and then that image circulating around Twitter and Facebook. When Ryan Lanza debunked this theory on his Facebook page, it led places like Buzzfeed to publicly apologize (the Forbes link has their half-hearted apology). Many of the apologies essentially blamed social media and how it has changed the industry into one that reports first, confirms after.
Even though the stories were corrected, the originals with the incorrect information are still floating around the web.