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'Abhorrent' Hoax Facebook Posts Are Claiming the Florida School Shooting Survivors Are 'Crisis Actors'

TIME Staff
'Abhorrent' Hoax Facebook Posts Are Claiming the Florida School Shooting Survivors Are 'Crisis Actors'

Facebook said Wednesday that it will remove posts circulating on the social network wrongly claiming that survivors of last week’s deadly Florida school shooting are “crisis actors” working on behalf of a liberal agenda.

“Hoax images that attack the victims of last week’s tragedy in Florida are abhorrent,” Tessa Lyons, a product manager at Facebook, said in a statement reported by CNET. “We are removing this content from Facebook.”

A number of posts on the website have targeted 17-year-old survivor, David Hogg, saying the student who has been publicly advocating for gun control in the wake of the shooting is the son of a “liberal FBI agent.”

Facebook is not the only platform where similar content has been posted. Both Twitter and YouTube have provided a breeding ground for such conspiracy theories, with a video accusing Hogg of being a crisis actor rising to the No. 1 trending spot Wednesday on YouTube with more 200,000 views. YouTube acknowledged Wednesday that its algorithm had not worked properly in surfacing the video prominently.

“In 2017, we started rolling out changes to better surface authoritative news sources in search results, particularly around breaking news events,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve seen improvements, but in some circumstances these changes are not working quickly enough. In addition, last year we updated the application of our harassment policy to include hoax videos that target the victims of these tragedies. Any video flagged to us that violates this policy is reviewed and then removed. We’re committed to making more improvements throughout 2018 to make these tools faster, better and more useful to users.”

On Tuesday, Hogg told CNN that he is “not a crisis actor,” adding: “I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that.”