Trans Woman Faces ‘Threats & Bullying’ After Being Mistaken for Texas School Shooter
06:50 GMT 26.05.2022 (Updated: 05:35 GMT 30.04.2023)
© Photo : Texas Department of Public SafetySalvador Ramos, identified as a suspect in Texas shooting
© Photo : Texas Department of Public Safety
The false narrative regarding the identity of the teenager who went on a shooting spree at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, killing 19 children and two adults, originated on the forum website 4chan and was subsequently disseminated on Twitter and Facebook* pages.
A transgender woman named Sam was erroneously identified online as the teenage gunman who killed 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school on 24 May, reported NBC News.
Photographs of the 20-year-old, who lives in Georgia, were swiftly shared on social media, including Twitter and Facebook, after someone on the anonymous online forum 4chan claimed she was the Uvalde gunman Salvador Ramos.
Today's #headlines:— Bfore Today (@Bfore_Today) May 26, 2022
Trans woman's photo used to spread baseless online theory about Texas shooterhttps://t.co/QLOFPFFR5c#news by NBC News
Sam, a transgender woman who lives in Georgia, said that on Tuesday evening, Reddit users started commenting on a photo of her that she h…
“Here's the shooter's Reddit,” the user posted on 4chan, adding a link to Sam's personal Reddit account shortly after the deadly shooting rampage took place at Robb Elementary School.
Republican Representative Paul Gosar, of Arizona, also picked up on the false narrative, posting on Twitter that the gunman was a “transsexual leftist illegal alien named Salvatore Ramos". His tweet was deleted a couple of hours later.
As Sam's photo, taken from her personal Instagram account, continued to be shared online, the trans woman was forced to fend off a barrage of threats and bullying, reported NBC News.
“This isn't the first time I was harassed, but it is the first time I've been accused of murder,” Sam was quoted as saying by NBC News on 25 May.
Furthermore, the images social media users claimed were of the teenage gunman were in fact of three different transgender women, including Sam, the UK-based Trans Safety Network reported. The group monitoring online threats made against the transgender community wrote in a post that all three women have confirmed they are alive.
On the day of the school massacre, in an attempt to stem the tide of lies being written about her, Sam posted a photo of herself on Reddit standing in front of a trans pride flag.
“It's not me, I don't even live in Texas,” she wrote, adding that she wanted “to live without being attacked when I leave my house.” Another image of herself that she shared showed her holding a piece of paper with the date on it.
After the torrent of false online accusations, Meta - the parent company of Facebook and Instagram - was said to be removing the posts as it violated its Bullying & Harassment policy.
Twitter also issued a statement to NBC, saying:
“In line with our Hateful Conduct policy, we will require the removal of tweets that share misleading claims about the identity of the perpetrator with the intent to incite fear or spread fearful stereotypes about a protected category.”
Sam was cited as taking a dim view of the social media platforms’ efforts.
“They've been relying on me and others to report the misinformation before doing anything,” she told the outlet.
Sam added that besides concern for her own safety, she was worried about the families of the victims of Tuesday's attack. Sam urged people to be more cautious and discriminating when they read something online.
“Transphobic people exist and people are quick to blame someone for terrible things instead of looking for the truth about what actually happened,” concluded Sam.
18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who massacred 19 children and two teachers in a Texas elementary school on Tuesday, had hinted about his plans on Facebook immediately before the attack, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. According to Democratic state Senator Roland Gutierrez, “He suggested the kids should watch out.”
Before the attack. Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School, also shot his grandmother - who survived - stole the family truck and drove to Robb Elementary School just before midday.
The teenager used two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles which he bought on his 18th birthday to perpetrate his attack, Texas police said. After entering the school, he went into a classroom and "barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,'' said Lt Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Police eventually broke down the door and shot and killed Ramos.
26 May 2022, 00:00 GMT
The shooting is the worst at a US school since 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 pupils and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The Uvalde massacre also comes 10 days after another mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, in which a white supremacist gunman attacked a supermarket in a black neighbourhood, killing 10 people.
*Meta (Facebook) is banned in Russia over extremist activities.