Within hours after the Las Vegas shooting that left more than 50 dead, quotes attributed to Gloria Steinem and David Letterman have circulated through social media. But, Steinem and Letterman didn’t say what social media says they did.
The quote attributed to Steinem compares women seeking an abortion to men seeking to buy guns. But, as Mashable and New York Magazine explained, Steinem didn’t actually originate the quote. Steinem herself shared the quote in 2015, but noted at the time, “This riff is not mine.” Steinem’s office confirmed to iMediaEthics Steinem didn’t first say the quote.
The full quote attributed on social media to Steinem reads:
“I want any young men who buys a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion. Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer. After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers.”
As for Letterman, a parody Twitter account, @DavidLetternan, tweeted, “Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was NOT a ‘lone wolf’, he was NOT ‘mentally ill’, he was a TERRORIST. End white privilege today.” That tweet has been re-tweeted more than 137,000 times. Refinery 29, Vibe, and Portland Mercury all included the parody tweet in news stories.
Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was NOT a “lone wolf”, he was NOT “mentally ill”, he was a TERRORIST. End white privilege today.
— Davis Leffernan (@DavidLetternan) October 2, 2017
But, as the Indy Star noted, the Twitter account’s bio states clearly, “Parody account.” That said, despite it being a parody account that plays off of David Letterman’s name, the tweet gained attention because of Google. The Indy Star explained,
“Google further elevated the profile of the fake account. If you search for ‘Stephen Paddock,’ you’ll be shown three tweets, right in your search results. One is from the fake Letterman account.”
Earlier this week, Facebook propagated false information about the Las Vegas shooting, as iMediaEthics previously reported. Gateway Pundit, a conservative site, reported the name of the wrong person as the Las Vegas shooter, implying that the mass murderer was a Democrat who was anti-Trump. We are still trying to ascertain whether the man wrongly named by Gateway Pundit as the shooter will take any legal action against the site.