A transgender woman from Georgia was wrongly accused of being the Texas school shooter Salvador Ramos, who killed more than a dozen students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde on Tuesday.
Identified as Sam, the trans woman revealed that on Tuesday night a few users on Reddit began commenting on a picture she posted on the platform some three months ago, informing her that an anonymous forum website, 4chan was sharing her pictures.
The pictures were taken from her personal Instagram, Sam informed NBC news, also mentioning that while this is not the first time she's being harassed but this is the first time she's hit with a murder accusation.
The misinformation started spreading soon after the shooting was reported. By Tuesday afternoon, Sam's photo was posted on 4chan with a link to her Reddit account, the post was captioned as "here's the shooter's reddit."
While not everyone was convinced of the photo belonging to the shooter, there were a few others who picked up some details of Sam's face from her profile and began creating new threads.
Images of at least two more transgender women were used alongside Sam's to further spread the baseless rumor on Twitter and Facebook. Rep. Paul Gosar also fell into the trap and tweeted transphobic slurs for the shooter, calling him "a transsexual leftist illegal alien." He quickly deleted his tweet, but by then users had already started calling him out, NBC reported.
There were many others like Gosar who further contributed in spreading lies about Sam, these include Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Conservative commentator Candace Owens.
According to Trans Safety Network, a UK-based group that monitors online threats made against the transgender community, images of three different transgender women, who are very much alive, is currently being circulated.
In an effort to 'set the record straight', Sam took to Reddit and posted a picture of herself on Tuesday evening with the caption, "It's not me, I don't even live in Texas."
In another picture, she is seen holding a piece of paper with the date on it. In response to comments on her post, she said she just wants "to live without being attacked."
When the rumors were debunked, several users started warning others on the unverified and unconfirmed pictures of the trans people linked to the shooter.
When Twitter and Facebook came under fire for not reacting to the violation of their misinformation policies and for allowing the repeated usage of Sam's photos by hundreds of users online, the companies announced the immediate removal of the content.
Meta officials said that the company is removing the content for violating its Bullying & Harassment policy and in line with the hateful conduct policy of Twitter, a spokesperson of the micro-blogging site ensured that any and every tweet that is found to be associated with the misleading claims, created with an aim to "incite fear or spread fearful stereotypes" will be removed.