YouTube apologizes for top trending conspiracy video that claimed Parkland survivor is an actor

After appearing as the No. 1 trending video for hours, YouTube finally removed a video that suggested one of the high school students who survived the Parkland, Fl. shooting last week was an actor.

In a statement to Fox News, a YouTube spokesperson said: “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.”

The title of the now-deleted video was “DAVID HOGG THE ACTOR…” The clip appears to show footage where Hogg was interviewed about a video he recorded in Redondo Beach, Calif.

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In actuality, the video resurfaces content from summer 2017 when Hogg was interviewed about how a friend of his got into an argument with a lifeguard.

The video was uploaded by a user named Mike M. and was viewed more than 216,000 times prior to its removal.

A source familiar with the matter noted that while the footage was from “authoritative news sources,” the description violated YouTube’s policies and removed it as soon as the company was made aware of it.

Despite the removal of the video, a YouTube search for “David Hogg” done by Fox News still shows several videos that appear to portray Hogg as an actor and not as a survivor of a school shooting that left 17 people dead.

Videos entitled “David Hogg Can’t Remember His Lines In TV Interview,” “David Hogg Can’t Remember His Lines In TV Interview” and “david hogg, poor crisis actor” still appeared on the site shortly after 1 p.m. EST.

YouTube does not have humans curating the Trending list, as trending lists appear all over the world, but the source added that humans are a part of training YouTube’s algorithms, along with other systems that are used to suggest videos.

Hogg’s family moved to Florida from California in 2014.

The latest blow to YouTube comes just days after Sen. Mark Warner, D.-Va. said the recommendation algorithm could be gamed.

YouTube’s powerful recommendation algorithm may be “optimizing for outrageous, salacious and often fraudulent content” or easily manipulated by “bad actors, including foreign intelligence entities,” Warner, who sits on the Senate’s intelligence committee, said.

Warner made the statement after an investigation by The Guardian reported that the Google-owned video platform was consistently promoting divisive and conspiratorial videos damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign before the 2016 election.

“Companies like YouTube have immense power and influence in shaping the media and content that users see,” Warner told the Guardian. “I’ve been increasingly concerned that the recommendation engine algorithms behind platforms like YouTube are, at best, intrinsically flawed in optimizing for outrageous, salacious, and often fraudulent content.”

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In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday afternoon, Hogg said the rallies that were going on in Florida today were representative of people demanding change to gun safety laws and regulations.

“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, we need to support people [politicians] who want to save lives,” Hogg said.

This story has been updated to include comments from YouTube. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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