David Hogg and his classmates lived through the unthinkable after a gunman entered their school and killed 17 of their peers and teachers. Now, the teens are speaking out about the need for gun control. Hogg and his classmates are not paid crisis actors; they’re victims reacting to a traumatic experience in an incredibly impressive way, considering that they’re still technically kids themselves. If you were to check out YouTube’s trending page on Wednesday morning, you might have been led to believe otherwise.
The No. 1 video, entitled “Confrontation Between Lifeguard, Bodysurfer Caught on Camera in Redondo Beach Goes Viral” on Wednesday morning was an old news clip of Hogg from CBS 2 Los Angeles in 2017. In the video, first spotted by Motherboard, Hogg’s friend — Hogg appears to have filmed the interaction and put it on YouTube — placed his boogie board on a trash can and proceeded to get into a fight with the lifeguard on duty. It would be harmless enough, but the video’s caption read, “DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR …” and the video’s publication date, which was earlier this week, not a year ago when this happened, indicated something much darker. The video was meant to discredit Hogg, whose initial, and eloquent, interview with CNN following the shooting quickly went viral. The user who uploaded the video, “mike m,” uploaded a different video on the same day entitled “David Hogg Can’t Remember His Lines When Interviewed for Florida School Shooting.” Later on Wednesday morning, YouTube took down the news clip, saying it violated YouTube’s “policy on harassment and bullying.” The second video about Hogg forgetting “his lines” remains live on the platform.
YouTube has been struggling in recent weeks to control its trending page. After Logan Paul posted his now-infamous “Suicide Forest” vlog — Paul discovered and filmed an apparent suicide victim hanging from a tree in Japan — the video quickly became one of YouTube’s top trending clips. Paul eventually took his video down, but then re-uploaded versions of it also started popping up on the trending page.
Update, February 21, 2018, at 11:25 a.m.: This post has been updated to reflect that YouTube deleted the trending video in question.