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Don't Believe Any Breaking News That Names This Comedian As A Mass Shooter

If you see any breaking news about Sam Hyde, be very skeptical.

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In the aftermath of the UCLA shooting, false reports started circulating on social media that the gunman had been identified as a man named Sam Hyde.

@RemoverOfKebabs / Twitter

The news was attributed to The Associated Press, which never reported any such thing.

In those chaotic first hours, these tweets were retweeted hundreds of times. They claimed Hyde was a Donald Trump supporter and a "noted white supremacist."

The same thing happened in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting in December of last year.

Twitter

Once again, Hyde was identified as a white supremacist by this fake Bill O'Reilly Twitter account, as well as others who spread the hoax.

The real shooters were later identified as Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.

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Sam Hyde is a comedian with a history of pranks and hoaxes, but it's unclear how this trend of identifying him as a mass shooter started.

Million Dollar Extreme / Via youtube.com

Hyde is probably best known for pretending to be a filmmaker to speak at a TEDx conference, where he delivered an excruciating talk about the wonders of the future.

The YouTube page for Hyde's comedy group, Million Dollar Extreme, contains several other examples of Hyde delivering uncomfortable or offensive performances to troll audiences. The AV Club has written that Million Dollar Extreme "doesn’t tend to 'wink' when it’s ironically adopting the personas of scummy Internet denizens."

Last year, Hyde and a fellow comedian carried out a bizarre prank that involved posting videos threatening Brianna Wu, the game developer who became a main target of the GamerGate movement. They later told BuzzFeed News the campaign was meant to mock GamerGate itself, but the satire was indistinguishable from other, legitimate threats made against Wu.

Hyde's strange internet footprint has led to a fair number of haters, especially among 4chan users. It's where the "Sam Hyde is the shooter" meme thrives, although it's not clear if that's where it originated.

Regardless of how Hyde became an avatar of online trolling campaigns, it has been taken up with great enthusiasm in some of the shadier corners of the web. The neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer even included him in a convoluted plan to inundate Breitbart comment sections with anti-Semitic spam.

The Daily Stormer / Via dailystormer.com

They told commenters to spam the most-read articles on Breitbart with comments about Jews, and to "mention Sam Hyde and act like everyone is supposed to know who he is."

Reached by email, Hyde told BuzzFeed News the Daily Stormer campaign and the larger trend of naming him as a suspect following shootings were part of an "anti-Semitic" bullying effort.

"They were targeting a bunch of people but I suppose my name is the one that stuck," he said as explanation for why his name keeps coming up over and over again following tragedies.

"It is definitely anti-Semitic because when this all started going down I was receiving a ton of emails with things written like 'you're dead Kike' and 'commie Jew Fuck' ... shit like that."

Hyde and Million Dollar Extreme seem to be playing along, to some extent. During the shooting at Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon last year, a doctored screenshot of a VICE News tweet purported to name "white supremacist Sam Hyde" as the shooter. It was retweeted hundreds of times, including by the Million Dollar Extreme account.

@mde_never_dies / Twitter

Hyde said he does not personally monitor or tweet from the @mde_never_dies account, and claimed that it's an assistant who is responsible for the group's social media accounts.

Million Dollar Extreme recently completed a deal to produce a sketch series for Adult Swim called World Peace, although there is no release date yet.

UPDATE

This article has been updated with comment from Sam Hyde.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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