In the days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, several students became the faces and voices of their campus.
Now, though, some posts on social media claim their actions speaking to the media aren’t what they seem, and the focus is on one student in particular.
A Facebook post circulating online reads, “Are you ready for a heaping helping of truth? Those so-called ‘high school students’ seen on camera, speaking on TV are not students! They are crisis actors, especially David Hogg.”
Among the images on the post is a screenshot of Hogg giving an interview to KCBS-TV in Los Angeles in August 2017.
Under his name it says “eyewitness,” leading some fringe websites to insinuate he was at the scene of another savage crime.
Placed in context, the report was about a much more mundane story: a dispute Hogg and a friend had with a lifeguard about a boogie board. The TV station spoke to him after a video of the confrontation he shot went viral.
“He said, ‘I didn’t know it was a crime to put your boogie board on the trashcan,’” Hogg told the TV station, referring what led to the dustup.
The claims that Hogg and other Douglas students are actors helping to promote anti-gun legislation have spread far and wide in cyberspace and elsewhere.
Recently, an email with the assertion landed in the inbox of a reporter for The Tampa Bay Times.
That message, which the Times reporter tweeted an image of, came from Benjamin Kelly, a staffer in the officer of Florida state Rep. Shawn Harrison. Kelly has since been fired.
“I am appalled at and strongly denounce his (Kelly's) comments about the Parkland students," Harrison tweeted, according to multiple media reports. Harrison's tweet was not available to be viewed by WWL-TV since his Twitter account is private.
The Facebook post racked up more than 111,000 shares before it was deleted. It circulated at a time when social media sites are faced with increased pressure to crack down on propaganda, fake reports and wild rumors.
Meanwhile, the Broward County schools superintendent has confirmed that Hogg and the other students who have been vocal in the wake of the shooting are students at Douglas.
"These are absolutely students at Stoneman Douglas," Robert Runcie told The Tampa Bay Times. "They've been there. I can verify that."
Hogg appeared on “Anderson Cooper 360” on Tuesday night in an effort to swat down the swirling conspiracy theory.
“I was a witness to this. I'm not a ‘crisis actor.’ I'm somebody that had to witness this and live through this, and I continue to have to do that,” Hogg said.
We rate the claim that David Hogg is a paid actor as false.