Debunked: Dylann Storm Roof Huffington Post Timestamp before the shooting

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
So doing a google search for Dylann Storm gives an unusual result:


This search was done at 5PM, June 18, 2015, but Storm was only named as a suspect about 12 hours earlier. So why was Huffington Post reporting it two days before the shooting even happened?

Here's the page.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/...leston-church-shooting-suspect_n_7612232.html

The answer is just in the way Google dates the pages it indexes. Google does not know when you put up a page, it just knows when it first sees it. We can find this by clicking on the "cached" link in the search results, which gives us:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.c...ect_n_7612232.html+&cd=10&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
(The link above to the cached version will probably expire eventually)

Notice there the page was indexed on Jun 18th, 20:38 GMT, which is 16:38 EDT, or 4:38PM, Eastern.

Google relies on the web site to supply the date the page was made. It looks in various places, in order of preference:

  1. The site map (sitemap.txt) which lists all the pages on a site, and (optionally) the date they were created
  2. The actual page itself, which can contain the date in a variety of ways
    • "pubdate" attributes, preferably in <time> tags
    • an "article:published_time" meta tag
    • other ad-hoc dates
  3. The first crawl time that Google saw the page, as a fall-back date

For #1, Huffington Post has a site map, however it does not include the date for each page. So Google next looks at data in the page to date it, firstly looking for <pubdate> tags, which are a standard way of indicating the published date:

http://www.w3schools.com/tags/att_time_datetime_pubdate.asp


Have a look at the source for the Huffington Post page from the Google Cache (which I've also added as a text file). The following is what Google sees when it reads it and looks for anything that says "date"
Code:
<meta name="sailthru.date" content="Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:14:00 -0400">
<meta name="sailthru.expire_date" content="Fri, 19 Jun 2015 10:14:00 -0400">
  huff.v({"last_deploy_commit_id":"1df7a3900d9300b62c6988bcb4c4868966fd5e58","deploy_commit_id":"197441df9432e0486d7fd0b1a18746b4f5de8bbf","deploy_seq":1434556901,"last_deploy_seq":1434470743,"deploy_date":"Wed, 17 Jun 2015 12:01:41 -0400","[B]last_deploy_date":"Tue, 16 Jun 2015 12:05:43 -0400"[/B]});
"datePublished": "2015-06-18T10:15:42-04:00",
  date: '2015-06-18 10:14:00',
				<!-- page branding and current date -->
				<time datetime="2015-06-18">June 18, 2015</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-17 22:34:40" pubdate>2015-06-17 22:34:40</time>
  <time class="off" datetime="2015-06-18 11:25:29" pubdate>2015-06-18 11:25:29</time>
  <time class="off" datetime="2015-06-18 12:17:35" pubdate>2015-06-18 12:17:35</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-17 15:47:35" pubdate>2015-06-17 15:47:35</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-16 17:36:54" pubdate>2015-06-16 17:36:54</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-17 13:49:11" pubdate>2015-06-17 13:49:11</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-17 16:35:47" pubdate>2015-06-17 16:35:47</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-18 13:40:42" pubdate>2015-06-18 13:40:42</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-18 12:28:26" pubdate>2015-06-18 12:28:26</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-17 15:29:31" pubdate>2015-06-17 15:29:31</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-17 16:40:44" pubdate>2015-06-17 16:40:44</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-17 17:19:25" pubdate>2015-06-17 17:19:25</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-18 14:46:05" pubdate>2015-06-18 14:46:05</time>
<time class="off" datetime="2015-06-18 11:31:24" pubdate>2015-06-18 11:31:24</time>
		Posted: <time datetime="2015-06-18T10:15:42-04:00">
		Updated: <time datetime="2015-06-18T11:59:01-04:00">

Notice there's a lot of dates in there, and specifically there's a lot of "pubdate" tags when really there should be just one. How does Google pick the correct one? If you don't explicitly tell Google, it seems like it simply picks the earliest date on the page. In this case it comes from this bit of code:
Now this comes from a section of a Huffington Post page called the "3up Carousel" which seems to be an element on Huffington Post pages which includes a preview and links to other stories, rotating so three stories are visible at once. However it's something that's switched off and it does not actually appear in the visible page. It's either leftover code, or a work in progress. Either way it's adding the date of the linked story, and Google is picking that up as the date for the main story, as it's the oldest date on the page.

It's also possibly just picking the first pubdate, as the order of the included stores will vary, and we can't tell what it was when the page was first indexed.

So in summary, poor coding of the page led to the inclusion of multiple <time pubdate> tags for linked stories. Google simply picked the oldest (or the first) date on the page as the date the page was created, but it refers to a different story from a few days earlier.
 

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Gridlock

Senior Member.
Good write-up; note that the cached date is not the same as the indexed (or re-indexed) date though, although they tend to be similar.

You can get additional data from the site itself if it runs a sitemap as they usually include date-modified; simply append sitemap.xml to the bare domain and look for the page you're interested in. Again though it's an imperfect measure.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
You can get additional data from the site itself if it runs a sitemap as they usually include date-modified; simply append sitemap.xml to the bare domain and look for the page you're interested in. Again though it's an imperfect measure.

Thanks. Huffington Post has a site map, but they don't include the dates in it. I've updated the OP with this, and added a bit more info about <time pubdate>, which seems to be the problem here.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
One low hanging fruit down, maybe? But you have about two dozen news stories specifically time stamped June 16th, a day earlier to debunk. Have fun. I haven't even bothered with ones on June 17th that were early.
https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search...1&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=avast&b=1&pz=8&xargs=0

I've just changed the search subject to 'Stonehenge solstice 2015'. That took place on June 21st, yet there are results time stamped for June 20th and June 19th. Does that mean there is something fishy going on with the UKs most famous hippy gathering, or does it prove the time stamp issues as described by Mick above? I suspect the later.
https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search...search&hspart=avast&hsimp=yhs-001&type=agc511
 
I've just changed the search subject to 'Stonehenge solstice 2015'. That took place on June 21st, yet there are results time stamped for June 20th and June 19th. Does that mean there is something fishy going on with the UKs most famous hippy gathering, or does it prove the time stamp issues as described by Mick above? I suspect the later.
https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search...search&hspart=avast&hsimp=yhs-001&type=agc511

You don't think journalists aren't writing general interest stories in advance about the annual Stonehenge solstice? Takes some real fuzzy thinking to extend that logic to writing about the Charleston shooting a day in advance.
 
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Hevach

Senior Member.
You don't think journalists aren't writing general interest stories in advance about the annual Stonehenge solstice? Takes some real fuzzy thinking to extend that logic to writing about the Charleston shooting a day in advance.
Hell, most of the time if you look into it, stories like that aren't just written days in advance, they're very often written years in advance, with the same story recycled year after year and slightly adjusted for specifics. Writing in advance is not the same thing as posting in advance, however, the fact remains that those articles also (verifiably at that) did not exist when Google says they did.

That said, feel free to post any links to articles that actually cached on the 16th through any archival or caching service, and don't just show as a day older than they are through Google's dating system (which their own help database says is an incomplete work in progress feature).
 

deirdre

Senior Member.

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Hell, most of the time if you look into it, stories like that aren't just written days in advance, they're very often written years in advance, with the same story recycled year after year and slightly adjusted for specifics. Writing in advance is not the same thing as posting in advance, however, the fact remains that those articles also (verifiably at that) did not exist when Google says they did.

That said, feel free to post any links to articles that actually cached on the 16th through any archival or caching service, and don't just show as a day older than they are through Google's dating system (which their own help database says is an incomplete work in progress feature).
 
Yes writing a document is different from posting, and these June 16 items are document dates. Still most curious that the Google bots would find a document already in the system a day early on this topic. I'd say that is foreknowledge. Somebody got sloppy. If it was just a couple I might let it slide, but there are a bunch of them.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Yes writing a document is different from posting, and these June 16 items are document dates. Still most curious that the Google bots would find a document already in the system a day early on this topic. I'd say that is foreknowledge. Somebody got sloppy.
they arent document dates. i only looked at the first one dated June 16th in your original link ... if you right click on a webpage you can "view source". it was written on June 18

published.PNG
 
they arent document dates. i only looked at the first one dated June 16th in your original link ... if you right click on a webpage you can "view source". it was written on June 18

published.PNG

If so Google has a completely worthless public dating system, that's a good story in and of itself. That would also make false flags and sloppily executed hoaxes all the easier to pull off, what a coinkydink.
 

occams rusty scissor

Senior Member.
I'd say that is foreknowledge. Somebody got sloppy. If it was just a couple I might let it slide, but there are a bunch of them
There's a bunch of them that have been "discovered", and yet the perpetrators are continually making the same mistake and not correcting it by now? Seems awfully sloppy for such complex conspiracies to be continually ruined by the same mistakes. I'd be firing my head conspiracy maker guy (it's a thing, look it up).
 

occams rusty scissor

Senior Member.
The answer is just in the way Google dates the pages it indexes. Google does not know when you put up a page, it just knows when it first sees it.
Hey mick, has this been stickied somewhere under a "tips for debunking"thread? It's come up a few times now as a symptom of conspiracy - sandy hook, boston marathon. (Apologies for not searching in the first place, but on my phone ATM and it's not letting me access search results properly.)
 
Did the search under Bing and that source looks clean: no early dates at least at this juncture. If nothing else I have a new search engine to use. Wrong dates are inexcusable. Also the multiple wrong dates are on Yahoo. Google uses a days ago system. There were some errors including the one addressed in the author's post, but nothing like Yahoo. Yahoo is a search disaster.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
You don't think journalists aren't writing general interest stories in advance about the annual Stonehenge solstice? Takes some real fuzzy thinking to extend that logic to writing about the Charleston shooting a day in advance.
If you read some of the stories on the Stonehenge gathering dated June 20th, they are reporting events of the gathering itself on the 21st eg... http://www.inquisitr.com/2189947/summer-solstice-2015-draws-thousands-to-stonehenge-to-mark-the-longest-day-of-the-year/
note the past tense
yet that link is time stamped on yahoo 24hrs before the gathering happened.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
There's a bunch of them that have been "discovered", and yet the perpetrators are continually making the same mistake and not correcting it by now? Seems awfully sloppy for such complex conspiracies to be continually ruined by the same mistakes. I'd be firing my head conspiracy maker guy (it's a thing, look it up).
and if all these reports were coming out up to 48 hours before the shooting why the hell didn't ANYBODY tip the church off a right wing 'government sanctioned' nutter was going to go to bible study with murderous intent? I know I would.
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
Bing parses sites differently than Google and Yahoo. It actually has the opposite problem of postdating articles rather than predating them. For example, right now you can search for the shooting and get a number of articles supposedly from the last few minutes or hours which were posted yesterday morning and afternoon. I know of one absurd instance of postdating where the top result of a video game related search was stuck for over a year with a news article supposedly posted in the last few minutes which had actually been taken offline before Bing even existed, trapped forever because of a combination between its link following methods and a glitch in how it parses dynamic content.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Did the search under Bing and that source looks clean: no early dates at least at this juncture. If nothing else I have a new search engine to use. Wrong dates are inexcusable. Also the multiple wrong dates are on Yahoo. Google uses a days ago system. There were some errors including the one addressed in the author's post, but nothing like Yahoo. Yahoo is a search disaster.
another weird thing with computers that happens ... not this google issue.. but like with twitter timestamps, yor computer or phone settings can change the search results or displayed times. It still amazes me people think computers are perfect. They are just written code and code is only as good as the people who write it.

Although its not really googles fault that the websites themselves have links to older stories (the case in the OP) or widgets on their page that screw up teh Google timestamps.
 
[off-topic material removed]

The time stamp issue seems to be a pretty serious technical issue with these search engines especially Yahoo. You may have this foreknowledge issue debunked, but still it is very odd to me.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
this foreknowledge issue
there is no foreknowledge issue. there is only computer algorythm issues. look at your own link. look at the blogs and local news stations and little weird websites... do you honestly believe ALL those miscellaneous 'little people' were given foreknowledge? come on. work with us here.
 
there is no foreknowledge issue. there is only computer algorythm issues. look at your own link. look at the blogs and local news stations and little weird websites... do you honestly believe ALL those miscellaneous 'little people' were given foreknowledge? come on. work with us here.

I've written for years using Wordpress, and it makes it to Google accurately. But yes it is clear to me they do have some issues.

[off topic material removed]
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
If so Google has a completely worthless public dating system, that's a good story in and of itself. That would also make false flags and sloppily executed hoaxes all the easier to pull off, what a coinkydink.

Perhaps you should re-read the OP? If you look at the cached version of a page, Google will show you exactly when it first saw that version of the page.

Google looks in the page for dates. It's not Google's fault if there are bad dates in there. There's a saying in computers: "garbage in, garbage out".

Pick any unexpected event, search for it, you will find stories with dates from before that event. It's just sloppy and varied practices on the internet for dating articles.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Reminder: The topic here is the dating of internet pages in search engines, and most specifically this one, in Google. Please stay close to the topic.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I've written for years using Wordpress, and it makes it to Google accurately.

Wordpress is coded very well, they have the proper meta tags, for example:
Code:
<meta property="og:title" content="Hybrid Contrails - Contrail Science" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Contrails are generally classified into two types. Exhaust contrails and aerodynamic contrails. Exhaust contrails are formed by the mixing of the hot humid exhaust of the engines with cold humid surrounding air, creating long streamers of clouds. If the conditions are right then these can persist and spread. These are the most common type of contrail observed. [...]" />
<meta property="og:url" content="http://contrailscience.com/hybrid-contrails-a-new-classification/" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Contrail Science" />
<meta property="article:section" content="contrails" />
<meta property="article:published_time" content="2013-03-05T13:37:08+00:00" />
<meta property="article:modified_time" content="2014-09-23T10:23:06+00:00" />
<meta property="og:updated_time" content="2014-09-23T10:23:06+00:00" />
 

Jeremy

Active Member
Not surprised to see the "false flag" nonsense pop up.

If there wasn't really real effort made to curtail gun ownership after Sandy Hook, then there won't be after nine black people got shot dead in Emanuel AME Church.
 
Thanks, Mick. I was sure there would be some conspiracy theories flying around about this, but hadn't held my nose long enough to go search for them. But I see that there are a number of - you guessed it - Youtube videos already out there, mainly exploiting the time stamp. I'm sure there will be a couple of more threads on this opened up, but I couldn't help but notice that at least one of those videos finds it "too handy" that there are photos of the shooter entering the church.
Ironically, this same video producer is one of the people who finds it odd that there are no photos of the SH shooter entering the school.
 

Gridlock

Senior Member.
What is more likely?

1) Small news sites have foreknowledge of major public events
2) Small news sites try to appear at the top of News results by fudging publication dates
3) Google indexes tens of millions of pages daily and a percentage are indexed (technically, displayed; the index is filtered dozens of times before you see the results for your search, which is why it will vary between users) with duff data.
 
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