YouTube removes conspiracy video claiming Florida school shooting survivor is an actor

YouTube officials have removed a video that claimed a Florida school shooting survivor was an actor, calling the content “harassment and bullying.”

David Hogg has described the scene after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.

The video, called “DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR,” was removed Wednesday after it became the top trending video on YouTube. It showed a local TV news report of an altercation between a lifeguard and a surfer in Southern California.

Hogg, who was a friend of the surfer, spoke in the report according to CNN.

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“We felt threatened,” Hogg said in the report. “[The lifeguard] seemed unpredictable.”
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The video purported the conspiracy theory that Hogg was a “crisis actor,” which was debunked by fact-checking website Snopes.

Hogg disputed that – telling CNN on Tuesday that he wasn’t acting on anyone’s behalf.

“I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this, and I continue to be having to do that,” the teen said.

A reporter from the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Robert Runcie, Broward County school superintendent, to confirm he was a student at the high school.

Snopes said that Hogg himself offered information on his Twitter that explained his location, saying he took a vacation to California in the summer of 2017 – which is when he was in the news report.

After removing the video, YouTube officials said the video was “misclassified” because it contained footage from a reputable news source.

“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,” YouTube officials said to CNBC.

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A conspiracy video claiming a Florida school shooting survivor was an actor has been removed for “harassment and bullying.” Screenshot /

Other websites claimed Hogg didn’t attend the Parkland school, showing a picture of a yearbook photo that was allegedly from 2015 in Laguna Beach, Calif. – but Snopes also debunked that theory, because the source code of the profile was altered after the Feb. 14 shooting.

Other classmates of Hogg’s also disputed that theory, saying the picture is from the Stoneman Douglas yearbook, and highlighting a student wearing a Stoneman Douglas Eagles T-shirt.

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Another video called “David Hogg can’t remember his lines” was also removed for harassment and bullying. The Gateway, a website that’s being sued for defamation, said the video showed that he “appeared to be coached on lines.”

The theory was shared by U.S. President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., but has since been removed.

The story was also repeated on air by a Florida state senator’s aide – who told a Tampa Bay Times reporter that Hogg, along with classmate Emma Gonzalez, were actors.

“Both kids in the picture are not students but actors that travel to various cities when they happen,” Kelly wrote.

Later that afternoon, Senator Shawn Harrison issued a statement on Twitter which said that Kelly had been placed on leave for “an insensitive and inappropriate allegation.”

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Kelly later announced he had been fired but seemed to blame his firing on his decision to speak with the reporter rather than spreading false information.

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Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel dismissed the theories at a press conference in Parkland.

“To anybody who would say that these are actors, it defies logic and comprehension,” he said Wednesday.

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called the conspiracy theory “the work of a disgusting group of idiots with no sense of decency.” He received a thank-you response from Hogg.

Hogg told MSNBC that the negative reports are actually helping his cause because it’s drawing more people to it.

“The only time you’re ever doing anything that actually matters is when people try stopping you,” he said on Wednesday. “And they’re actually helping us.”

*with files from Kevin Nielsen


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