YouTube Removes School Shooting Conspiracy Video From Trending Section
YouTube has removed the video from the site for violating its policies and said it was misclassified because it featured footage from an "authoritative news source."
YouTube came under fire on Wednesday morning for promoting a video at the top of its Trending tab that suggested one of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is an actor.
David Hogg has been a vocal supporter of stricter gun laws in the days since a gunman killed 17 people at his high school, causing him to become the subject of online conspiracy theories that he is an actor pushing an anti-gun agenda.
On Wednesday morning, a video titled "David Hogg the Actor" became the No. 1 trending video on YouTube, racking up a reported 200,000 views. The video showed footage from a year-old local CBS news segment in which Hogg was interviewed following a heated argument between a lifeguard and a beach goer.
After an outcry over how the conspiracy theory became the top video on the YouTube tab, which given YouTube's 1.5 billion global users is viewed by a large number of people, the Google-owned company pulled the video from Trending and removed it from the site. The video was removed because its description violated YouTube policies
A spokesperson issued a statement that reads, "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'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. It appears this video deemed appropriate for the tab because it featured local news footage.
The world's largest video platform came under similar scrutiny last October after the Las Vegas shooting. Several conspiracy theory videos and fake news clips were showing up at the top of search results when people typed in queries about the shooting. At the time, YouTube said it was making changes to its algorithm that would give search result priority to videos from mainstream news outlets and other verified sources.
YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have all come under fire in the last year for their inability to prevent the spread of misinformation on their platforms, a concern sparked by Russia's use of social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Hogg also became a trending topic on Facebook on Wednesday morning, with similar conspiracy theories making their way to the top of the social network's news and current events section. They were eventually removed from the Trending section. "Images that attack the victims of last week's trategy in Florida are abhorrent," Mary deBree, head of Facebook content policy, said in a statement. "We are removing this content from Facebook."
Hogg addressed the comments about him on Tuesday during an appearance on CNN's AC360. "I'm not a crisis actor," he said. "I'm someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that."
Feb. 21, 4:18 p.m. Updated with a statement from Facebook.