Shock and grief over Orlando shooting

Outpouring of support from netizens all over the world in the wake of the tragedy

Mr Pablo Reyes' seemingly prophetic post dated last December turns out to be an edited version of the original post. Above and right: On Twitter, the hashtag #LoveisLove has been a top trend throughout the week. Other hashtags which trended include #
Above On Twitter, the hashtag #LoveisLove has been a top trend throughout the week. Other hashtags which trended include #OrlandoUnited and #NeverForget. PHOTOS: JOE ZEE/TWITTER, JOHN MINA/TWITTER


It has been a week, and netizens the world over are still reeling from the senseless killings that took place last Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The killer took the lives of 49 people, and injured 53 others in his shooting spree.

On Twitter, the hashtag #LoveisLove has been a top trend throughout the week, with millions of users firing off messages of support for families of the victims, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community at large.

"We are born to love. We are taught to hate. #LoveIsLove," said Twitter user Ranj Singh.

"Minds open. Hearts change. America shifts," said US President Barack Obama. "Be proud of how far we've come - and continue to push for progress. #LoveIsLove"

Above and top: On Twitter, the hashtag #LoveisLove has been a top trend throughout the week. Other hashtags which trended include #OrlandoUnited and #NeverForget. The post above was made by Orlando’s police chief. PHOTOS: JOE ZEE/TWITTER, JOHN MINA/TWIT

Mr Pablo Reyes’ seemingly prophetic post dated last December turns out to be an edited version of the original post. PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF PABLO REYES


  • #DADSONGS: To celebrate Father's Day, netizens went on Twitter to share hit tunes with a lyrical twist. Popular refrains include: "My neck, my back, my bald spot and my hernia" and "Propane in the membrane".

    #RIPCHRISTINA: YouTube sensation Christina Grimmie was gunned down by a stranger a week ago while signing autographs after a concert in Orlando, Florida.

    "There is this gigantic hole in my heart that's never going to go away, but God is bigger than the hole," Grimmie's father said at her memorial service yesterday.

    NBA FINALS: The battle between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers is tied at three apiece. The deciding game will be played tomorrow.


Other hashtags which trended include #OrlandoUnited and #NeverForget.

"Love conquers hate, good will always prevail over evil," said Orlando police chief John Mina.

The outpouring of support came from all corners of the globe. Famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Harbour Bridge shone with the colours of a rainbow at night, and vigils were held in London, Paris, Brussels and South Korea. In Singapore, some 700 people turned up at Hong Lim Park last Tuesday to hold a moment of silence for the victims.

But there were some who felt that the LGBT communities worldwide are using the event to politicise their cause, a stand which drew criticism.

Opposition veteran Goh Meng Seng also attracted flak for a Facebook post which implied that the strong show of support locally was partly because it was the LGBT community which was attacked.

"We didn't see any big group of Singaporeans gather at Hong Lim Park for any mass killings of innocent people in the world for the past decades," he noted.

"While LGBT is assertive in their rights…, it seems to me that they are more concerned about their own community's issues and plight," he added.

Netizens also criticised People's Power Party chairman Syafarin Sarif for sharing a story that asserted the Orlando shooting was faked.

Faith Community Baptist Church senior pastor Lawrence Khong, who is known for his pro-family views and opposition to the annual Pink Dot gathering that champions gay rights, said in a Facebook post last Tuesday that his "heart was deeply grieved by the ruthless terrorist killing", and that it was a "time for compassion, love, and healing".

"Sadly, this happened in a gay bar. This may deepen the wounds of rejection within the community and if any of us Christians feel that they deserve to die because of their sin, we must think again," he added.

His words did not go down well with freelance journalist Kirsten Han. "Don't pretend you care about the safety of LGBT people when you are a leading voice in the systematic erasure of LGBT people's existence," she said.

"Sorry, but you don't get to pray for us Lawrence Khong," said Ivan Heng, the artistic director of home-grown theatre company Wild Rice. "How opportunistic of you to claim now that you are praying for Orlando. If you are recanting, we need an apology."

Some people, however, reacted positively to the pastor's message.

GLBT Voices Singapore founder Nicholas Lim penned a letter to Mr Khong asking for an open dialogue. "Mr Khong, I believe you when you say you are not fuelled by hatred. I no longer wish to feel anger towards you… And I look forward to hearing from you."


Is US marketing executive Pablo Reyes the Nostradamus of our times? In a seemingly prophetic Facebook post dated last December, he says that Mrs Hillary Clinton will be the first female president. He adds that "Prince will die, Muhammad Ali will die, Kimbo Slice will die, Donald Trump will die. And the US will experience the worst mass shooting."

More astute Internet users would immediately sense that something is amiss. After all, why would such a powerful seer bother putting up social media posts when there is a vast potential for making money?

It turns out that Mr Reyes' post is an edited post that went viral. It has so far garnered more than 400,000 likes, comments and shares. A quick sift through his editing history reveals that his original post revolves around the less sensational topic of people taking selfies with tornadoes out in the open.

Another telltale sign that things are not quite what they seem is the fact that his predictions have drawn only 28 comments, which is extremely low for a post with such wide reach. This could mean that he is actively hiding or deleting comments exposing his prank.


If you actually read news items in your Twitter feed before you share them, there is a high chance that you are in the minority. A new study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute revealed that almost 60 per cent of links shared on the social media platform have never been clicked.

To make matters worse, such "blind" sharing plays a large part in determining what news gets circulated and what doesn't.

The study is based on a dataset of 2.8 million shares, which would be responsible for 75 billion potential views on the platform.

"People are more willing to share an article than read it," says study co-author Arnaud Legout in a statement to The Washington Post. "This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper."

So the next time you spot an interesting headline on your social media feed, read the article. The story might be far more nuanced than what a 10-word headline can adequately portray.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Shock and grief over Orlando shooting'. Subscribe