Newtown School Shootings: Media Misidentify Facebook Page as Suspect’s (Updated)

Media outlets like Slate, Buzzfeed forced to correct or delete reports

Last Updated: December 14, 2012 @ 2:52 PM

Updated, 5:38 p.m. EST

Several media outlets, including Slate and Fox News, have been forced to retract earlier reports citing a Facebook page they claimed belonged to the alleged gunman in Friday's Newtown, Conn., elementary school shootings.

Pictures taken from the profile of a Ryan Lanza were included in several articles about the murders. That was the name of the man that news organizations initially claimed opened fire on Friday killing at least 27 people, many of them children. The latest reports indicate that Adam Lanza is the shooting suspect, not Ryan Lanza, who is his reportedly his older brother.

Like the suspected shooter, this Lanza also was from Newtown.

It now appears, however, that they have the wrong man. Someone posting as Lanza emphatically denied that he was involved in the killings.

"Everyone shut the f— up it wasn't me," Lanza posted, according to a screenshot shared on Twitter by one of his friends.

Media outlets moved swiftly to try to correct the error. Fox News removed the Facebook snapshots from its site and stopped broadcasting the images. Buzzfeed, which was one of the first sites to run with the story, deleted its article. Slate tweeted an apology after it linked to the Facebook page on Twitter.

A Huffington Post article that carried a provocative headline stating the Facebook page showed "suggestive details" about the suspect, now ends in this correction:

"The original story in this entry misidentified a Facebook page as that of the shooter. We regret the error."

Lanza's Facebook page was down for several hours on Friday. It has since been restored. Facebook did not directly respond to questions from TheWrap about the circumstances surrounding its removal and restoration.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and our sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of the victims," a spokeswoman for Facebook said in a statement. "Out of respect for those involved, and as this is an active law enforcement investigation, we are declining to comment further at this time."

For the record: The title of this article initially misspelled the location of the shootings as Newton, not Newtown.