As CNN reported, the video focuses on student David Hogg, one of the survivors who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and adults were killed last week. The video shows a clip of Hogg from last summer and calls him an actor, Bloomberg reported.
Hogg later told CNN he is “not a crisis actor.”
The video became the top trending video nationwide before it was removed on Wednesday. According to The New York Times, it amassed more than 200,000 views.
“This video should never have appeared in Trending. Because the video contained footage from an authoritative news source, our system misclassified it,” a spokeswoman for Google’s YouTube said, according to Bloomberg. “As soon as we became aware of the video, we removed it from Trending and from YouTube for violating our policies.”
A simple search for “David Hogg” also yielded search results of more conspiracy videos. And those who watched the original video were shown related content that focused on the same subject.
As of Wednesday morning, any searches for “David Hogg” did not show YouTube users any conspiracy theory videos.
YouTube said it was even surprised the video caught on, according to Business Insider.
“In 2017, we started rolling out changes to better surface authoritative news sources in search results, particularly around breaking news events. We’ve seen improvements, but in some circumstances, these changes are not working quickly enough,” the company said in a statement. “In addition, last year we updated the application of our harassment policy to include hoax videos that target the victims of these tragedies. Any video flagged to us that violates this policy is reviewed and then removed. We’re committed to making more improvements throughout 2018 to make these tools faster, better and more useful to users
Mathew Ingram, a writer at Columbia Journalism Review, said on Twitter that the video trended so widely because of YouTube’s algorithm.
“When conspiracy theories like the David Hogg ‘crisis actor’ video start trending, most people think, ‘This is bad information and should be removed,’” he wrote. “But YouTube’s algorithm seems to think, ‘Hey, lots of people seem to like conspiracy theories, so we should show them more.’”
YouTube has previously been a source of online conspiracy theories in the wake of tragedy. According to The New York Times, videos after last summer’s Las Vegas shooting questioned the killer’s motives with “discredited and unproven information.”
However, YouTube said at the time that it changed its search algorithm to promote more mainstream media videos over those rife with conspiracy theories and misinformation, according to USA Today. The company did not decide which news outlets would be considered legitimate or authoritative.
In December, YouTube planned to hire more reviewers to watch and point out any videos that share explicit content, according to the Deseret News. The company received heavy backlash late last year for having videos for children that contain violent and sexual themes. YouTube deleted thousands of videos in response.
YouTube said at the time that it plans to add 10,000 reviewer jobs in 2018.