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Conservatives: Stop Sharing Fake News

Emma Gonzalez shredding, tearing up constitution

By now, most of you have probably seen the photo and animation of Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez tearing up the Constitution. For a few days you couldn’t go on social media without seeing the image. According to the Washington Times, the image and news stories about it were shared about 70,000 times on social media.

The image was fake.

It was, for sure, an impressive forgery. I remember when I first saw it. It appeared in my Facebook feed after a friend had shared it. I was unaware of the original photo featuring Gonzales tearing up a shooting range target because it came from a Teen Vogue photo shoot and, obviously, I don’t read Teen Vogue. But still, alarm bells went off the first time I saw the doctored image, and knew I couldn’t trust it.

So, I asked the individual who posted it about it. He assured me that it was real, that it had been posted all over... but I was not convinced. A simple reverse Google image search told me all I needed to know. The image was fake. Just as I suspected.

Despite how easy it was for me to determine it was a fake, I still saw the image getting shared. Any time I saw it posted by a friend on their wall, or by a stranger in a Facebook group, I would alert them that the image was a fake. Some people conceded the image fooled them.

Others didn’t care.

“Even if it’s fake, it’s basically true, because that’s what’s she’s trying to do.”

You will get no argument from me that Gonzales and other survivors the gun control movement are exploiting are attacking the Constitution and whatever else the powerful people pulling their strings right now want them to, but that is no justification for sharing images you know to be fake.

There’s no excuse for gun rights activists to have been so easily duped. Yes, the forgery was impressive and convincing, but it was also such a convenient image that played right into the hands of defenders of gun rights that the first reaction to the image should have been to question its veracity, not share it blindly because it reinforced their beliefs.

I’m reminded of a viral image of Donald Trump that was being shared throughout his presidential campaign and even after he won and took office. It featured an old photo of Trump and the quote, supposedly from a 1998 issue of People magazine, “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.” There were a number of different versions of this viral meme, but they all shared the identical quote.