YouTube criticised for promoting fake news in wake of Florida school shooting


After surviving a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead, numerous student survivors have become vocal advocates for gun control and changes in mental health care and school safety.

In recent days, fringe right-wing conspiracy theorists have been putting forward the notion that David Hogg, one of the students at the school who has been speaking out for gun control, is an actor.

The evidence is thin, to put it mildly.

Responding to the wild claims, Hogg bluntly told CNN: "I am not a crisis actor".

YouTube faced criticism for prominently featuring a video that claimed Hogg was a crisis actor. In fact, Hogg used to lived in Los Angeles, and he relocated to Florida several years ago, as families around the world have occasionally been known to do. The interviewer was in NY and Hogg was in Florida. the earpiece allows Hogg to hear the questions being asked to him.

'These people saying this is absolutely disturbing.I am not an actor in any way, shape or form. Jones has claimed the parents of the children killed that day are lying.

YouTube's Trending tab is populated with videos based on a complex algorithm that factors in view count, rate of growth in views and the age of the video.

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Hogg appeared on "Anderson Cooper 360" on Tuesday night in an effort to swat down the swirling conspiracy theory.

In the comments section before it was removed, critics said: 'Anyone else notice that this is the kid from the Florida shooting?' Another story pushed by The Gateway Pundit suggested it, with Donald Trump Jr. liking the story on Twitter.

Twitter, which has reportedly suspended thousands of automated accounts recently, on Thursday referred us to a tweet from its Twitter Safety account Wednesday, in which it said it is "actively working on reports of targeted abuse and harassment of a number of survivors of the tragic mass shooting in #Parkland".

The YouTube video, captioned "DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR", is of a local television report from Southern California in which a young surfer gets into an argument with a Redondo Beach lifeguard after the youth is criticized for placing his boogie board on top of a trash can.

Amazingly, the US President's son, Donald Trump Jr., liked two tweets suggesting that Hogg was an actor.

Benjamin Kelly, secretary to Republican district representative Shawn Harrison, emailed a journalist: "Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen". The mugshot reveals a 26-year-old arrested in SC with the same name, and a very similar identity to the Parkland student.

He added, "I'm not acting on anybody's behalf".