YouTube has removed a controversial video which falsely and disgustingly suggested that Parkland, Florida high school shooting survivor David Hogg is a crisis actor.
Conspiracy theories about mass shootings are nothing new. They’ve persisted about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting despite the fact that it definitely happened. So, of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that similar theories have already emerged surrounding the shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
A video, titled “The SEARCH for ANY Real Evidence of a Massacre,” purports to show evidence that the shooting didn’t take place, though it’s not particularly convincing — probably because there was a shooting that hundreds of people witnessed last week. But, the video that’s made the news was called, “David Hogg The Actor” and was #1 on YouTube’s Trending list before it was taken down.
But, first — a little background. David Hogg has been one of the most outspoken teenagers calling for better gun control laws in the wake of the shooting. He was one of the first students to appear on television the day after the shooting.
The video claimed that Hogg was a “crisis actor,” paid by some shadowy individual to pretend that a massacre happened. Many on the far right are drawn to theories like this because it suggests that the activism surrounding gun control isn’t genuine and that only George Soros and other weird liberal billionaires want change. As evidence, the clip pointed to a video posted by David to YouTube back in August 2017 that went viral. The video was of a confrontation between his friend and a lifeguard in Redondo Beach, CA. That viral moment landed David on local news in Los Angeles. The video was used by uploader “Mike M” to suggest that David is an actor and not the survivor of a school shooting. The video had over 200,000 views by the time it was removed by YouTube.
YouTube also removed a “Mike M” video titled, “David Hogg Can’t Remember His Lines When Interviewed for Florida school shooting,” with a description that read “Ask yourself why is he practicing his lines…???” Comments on the video agreed with Mike M. They said “Crisis actor,” “wake up the government is lying to us,” and “Jews Lied People Died.”
But, it doesn’t end there.
Donald Trump Jr. liked a tweet from a conservative pundit which suggested that David Hogg was coached by his FBI agent father to promote gun restrictions. He also liked a similar tweet claiming the FBI is somehow behind David’s and the other teenagers’ activism. Both of those tweets have since been deleted.
But, it’s kind of too late. “David Hogg” is now the top trending term in online Russian-linked influence networks, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy. Which means these conspiracy theories aren’t leaving the Internet anytime soon.
David Hogg, however, went on Anderson Cooper to set the record straight and tweeted to his now more than 80,000 followers: “You can’t stop us. You never will and you never can. We have the strength and grit to last far longer than these politicians will. That’s for damn sure #midtermsAreComing #NeverAgain.”
Since removing the video, a spokesperson for YouTube gave this statement to Vice —
This video should never have appeared in Trending. Because the video contained footage from an authoritative news source, our system misclassified it. As soon as we became aware of the video, we removed it from Trending and from YouTube for violating our policies. We are working to improve our systems moving forward.
What do you guys think? Can YouTube effectively prevent conspiratorial content from trending? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.