Conservatives on social media doctored a video of Parkland survivor and activist Emma González tearing the U.S. Constitution in half.
The actual image showed González, 17, ripping apart a gun-range target.
The original video was part of a Teen Vogue digital publication, for which González wrote an op-ed.
Phillip Picardi, chief content officer for Teen Vogue, put the original and doctored images side-by-side on Twitter to put the lies to rest.
At left is @tyler_mitchell’s photo of @Emma4Change for the cover of @TeenVogue. At right is what so-called “Gun Rights Activists” have photoshopped it into. #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/jW6tTOv2Db
— Phillip Picardi (@pfpicardi) March 25, 2018
“The attacks being lobbied against Emma follow the all-too-familiar patterns: she’s an opinionated woman, she’s Latinx, she is queer,” Picardi said. “Some say those are strikes already against her when confronting the establishment.”
“The fact that we even have to clarify this is proof of how democracy continues to be fractured by people who manipulate and fabricate the truth,” he added.
It is unclear where the fake news originated, but the photo remains on social media platforms, including conservative commentator Adam Baldwin’s Twitter.
— Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) March 24, 2018
Baldwin tweeted the image with the caption “Vorwärts!” the German word for “Forward!” The word was used in chants during World War II by the Hitler Youth, the Nazi Party’s youth organization at the time.
Gab, a social media network popular among the alt-right, tweeted the video, too, with the caption, “Not gonna happen.”
It has been liked over 3,600 times and retweeted nearly 2,000.
Baldwin chalked the image to “political satire.” Gab similarly followed up with a tweet:
This is obviously a parody/satire. You’re all mad because it’s believable, isn’t it? That’s the best type of satire. It’s a comedic reflection of reality.
— Gab: Free Speech Social Network (@getongab) March 25, 2018
The Parkland activists have been targeted by conservatives since the tragic shooting shook their school. Benjamin Kelly, former aide to state Rep. Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa), lost his job after he falsely claimed that González and fellow survivor-turned-activist David Hogg were strategically placed actors.
People have brought Hogg into further question because his father worked for the FBI. When appearing on CNN Hogg defended the FBI and placed blame for lack of gun control primarily on President Donald Trump. This gave Republicans all they needed to go after Hogg. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, reportedly “liked” a tweet from One America News Network (OANN) that suggested Hogg criticized Trump to paint the FBI in a good light. The tweet could no longer be located on the OANN account but a Twitter account called @TrumpAlert posted a screenshot.
Jack Kingston, a Republican former U.S. representative of Georgia, slammed the survivors-turned-activists, who he said on CNN are essentially puppets for “left-wing groups who have an agenda.” And David Clarke, former sheriff of Milwaukee County who on Twitter calls himself an “NRA Benevolent Member,” insinuated on Twitter that the Parkland students are being paid off.
Conservative propaganda spread on social media has proven to be harmful before. In 2016 the Pizzagate scandal captured the nation’s attention. According to pushers of the conspiracy, a pizza place in Washington, D.C., had ties to a child sex trafficking scheme linked to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The false narrative led to employees at the parlor being threatened, harassed and terrorized. One man went to the restaurant with a rifle and fired three shots inside, claiming he was there to self-investigate. No one was injured.
Even the president cannot resist a good conspiracy; his pre-politics days, campaign journey and time in the White House have all proven that. He pushed the birther movement before he was elected. While campaigning he suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. And while in office, he suggested that the leaked recording of him bragging about grabbing women’s genitals may not be authentic after he apologized for the comments.