YouTube has removed a conspiracy video which suggested a high school student who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was a ‘crisis actor’.
At one point this morning, (February 21), the video about 17-year-old David Hogg reached top trending on YouTube.
Conspiracy theorists believe the student is a paid actor being puppeteered by anti-gun groups.
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A Youtube spokesman told VICE News:
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.
These theorists believe Hogg, along with other witnesses, are part of a group of actors who travel across the country to advocate for gun control.
Emma Gonzalez sat in front of me in AP Enviro and David Hogg sits beside me in astronomy. But please, continue to tell the world they’re actors because they are more intelligent and determined than you will ever be. https://t.co/YVVXQ4ebzK
— Liz Stout (@lizardstout) February 21, 2018
A video with the description ‘DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR’ became one of the most popular videos on YouTube before it was taken down for ‘violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying.’
Part of the footage showed another unrelated incident, where a video taken by Hogg of a confrontation between a lifeguard and a surfer, went viral.
The way these people are dehumanizing a CHILD who survived a school shooting is frankly terrifying. Note how quickly their terminology went from describing David Hogg as a "son" to a "pawn" to an "anti-gun activist". pic.twitter.com/EPpVja38rE
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) February 20, 2018
Hogg became one of the more well known students to have been caught up in the massacre.
As an aspiring journalist, Hogg works at the high school’s television station and also volunteers at a local paper.
While hiding in a closet with several of his schoolmates, Hogg turned his camera to his fellow students and quietly interviewed them about their opinions on gun control.
Some ? from @SRuhle: "You know who liked a tweet that was going after that young man, David Hogg? [turns to camera] The president's son, Donald Trump Jr. I realize you're in India, sir, but I hope you get a chance to see this, and shame on you." pic.twitter.com/pw0ruO9zFX
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 21, 2018
Speaking with Time, Hogg explained his thought process:
While I was in there, I thought, ‘What impact have I had? What will my story be if I die here?’
The only thing I could think of was, pull out my camera and try telling others.
As a student journalist, as an aspiring journalist, that’s all I could think: Get other people’s stories on tape.
If we all die, the camera survives and that’s how we get the message out there, about how we want change to be brought about.
Incredibly sad state of affairs when Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor David Hogg—who is 17—just had to say "I'm not a crisis actor" on CNN.
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) February 21, 2018
In the aftermath of the shooting, Hogg was one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to come forward to speak with the media about the need for stricter gun laws.
Disturbingly, even President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr ‘liked’ a tweet linking to an article which supported the conspiracy theory.
The tweet read:
Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office which botched tracking down the man behind the Valentine Day massacre?
Just wondering. Just connecting some dots.
Reminder that Trump Junior liked a tweet suggesting these kids are crisis actors. pic.twitter.com/dHC9rPMTXt
— William LeGate (@williamlegate) February 21, 2018
The young man has now been forced to defend himself, making the following statement to CNN:
I’m not a crisis actor. I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that.
I’m not acting on anyone’s behalf. Unlike the people who are tweeting that stuff about me and my dad, I haven’t lost hope in America and my dad hasn’t either.
Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the Florida shooting.