Maine Mass Shooting Disinformation Floods Social Media as Suspect Remains at Large

“It’s as if everyone thinks disinformation is a problem, but not for them personally—only for *other* people,” Caroline Orr, a behavioral scientist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland who tracks disinformation online, wrote on X, adding: “When 20+ people are murdered in a mass shooting, and the reaction of most people on this website is: ‘How can I use this to push a political agenda?’ or ‘How can I use this to attack XYZ person?’… that reflects something far more disturbing.”

X, Meta, and TikTok did not immediately respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

At 3 am ET this morning, Lewiston Police Department confirmed on its Facebook page that Card, a certified firearms instructor and a member of the US Army from Bowdoin, Maine, was still on the run. The department said Card “should be considered armed and dangerous” and that members of the public should not approach him.

Law enforcement believes the shooter killed at least 16 people, wounding dozens more, at around 7 pm yesterday evening at the Sparetime Recreation bowling alley and the nearby Schemengees Bar and Grille. Officials said the death toll is expected to rise, with one local city councilor telling CNN that it could be as high as 22.

The incident was the nation’s worst mass shooting this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Card, whose own X profile was filled with conspiracy theories about trans mass shooters and pro-MAGA content, had been committed to a mental health facility for two weeks earlier this year after he reported “hearing voices and threats to shoot up the National Guard Base in Saco, Maine,” according to a police bulletin circulated bylaw enforcement and reported by AP.

Notably, Card also liked two posts, one from Donald Trump Jr. and another by far-right personality Dinesh D’Souza, about their opposition to gun control.

The rapid uncheck spread of misinformation last night and into this morning mirrored the response earlier this month when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7. In the hours and days following that horrific attack and the bombing of Gaza by the Israeli government, X was overrun by toxic disinformation shared by verified users who rehashed old footage, video game content, and photoshopped images to push partisan narratives.

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