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"I am not a Clinton ploy or an actor": Parkland shooting survivor responds to conspiracy theories

Student responds to conspiracy theories
Student targeted by conspiracy theories after shooting speaks out 02:22

PARKLAND, Fla. -- David Hogg reported what was happening as he and his classmates hid from the shooter. It was his instinct as a student journalist at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"It's the grieving students turn to put an end to this and be heard," he said.

But soon after he became one of the most prominent voices for stricter gun laws, he was labeled a fake on some far-right websites and fringe social media. One conspiracy used an interview he gave on an unrelated story while visiting California last year as evidence he was a paid actor. The top searches for him on Youtube Wednesday ranged from 'can't remember his lines' to 'exposed.'

"I am not a Clinton ploy or an actor," Hogg said. "I am a witness to this."

David Hogg, 17, head of the student TV station at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survived the mass shooting there last week. CBS News

On Wednesday, Hogg joined his fellow students in Tallahassee.

"I would like to thank the people that are saying this about me," Hogg said. "They've been great advertising. It means what I'm doing is working. Without those people saying that we would not have as many people here."

Student Cameron Kasky says the pushback only motivates him.

"You just gotta realize there are people who are here to help us," Kasky said. "There are, you know, a couple of Russian bots who are not here to help us."

Cameron Kasky CBS News

"There is a conspiracy element on the internet and in American media that whenever something like this happens there is a playbook," said Nicholas Thompson, a CBS News contributor.

Thompson says politics also play a role. One conspiracy got a 'like' on Twitter Tuesday from the president's son, Donald Trump Jr.

"There is a large portion of America that will not believe things that are said by mainstream outlets no matter how fact-checked and how accurate because the president for political reasons has said they're not true," said Thompson. "That is one of the reasons why conspiracies about the Parkland students thrive."

Youtube said it removed one conspiracy video it had promoted in its 'trending' section and Facebook said it would remove content attacking the victims. An aide to Florida state representative was fired Tuesday for sharing one of the conspiracies.

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