During the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., Emma González gave a heart-wrenching speech. She stood in silence, tears streaming down her face, for roughly six minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 people and injure more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month.
González was highly praised for her bravery and poise during the rally on Saturday. By Sunday, however, the teenager was the subject of internet hate stemming from a viral image on Twitter. The clip shows González, surrounded by three classmates, ripping apart what appears to be a copy of the U.S. Constitution. This led to angry, degrading responses from the far right on social media.
The image, shared thousands of times on social media, was fake. The real image was taken from Teen Vogue’s Twitter during its recent cover shoot with Parkland survivors. González is seen ripping apart a shooting target, not the Constitution.
"We, the youth of the United States, have built a new movement to denounce gun violence and call for safety in all of our communities. This is only the beginning." @Emma4Change pens a searing op-ed on this generation's plans to make change: https://t.co/MV34GJgrdI #NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/FWTpOD1WKL
— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) March 23, 2018
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first or only cyberattack the Parkland students have faced since speaking out in favor of gun control. Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg dispelled rumors from the far right that he was a crisis actor being paid to push an anti-gun message.
In addition to lies spread on social media, the students are also facing slander and threats. March for Our Lives organizer and Parkland student Cameron Kasky deactivated his Facebook account after receiving death threats from what he called “NRA cultists.”
The attacks on the students have been frequent and have spread quickly through social media, even after the storylines were proven false. After the altered image of González was dismissed as a fake, many people reacted to the lie, defending the high school student.
Chrissy Teigen summed up the internet attacks perfectly, with one word.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 26, 2018
Teigen’s tweet generated hundreds of responses, mostly in favor of the model’s opinion of fake news.
— Kasey (@In4md) March 26, 2018
I live in parkland. It’s so crazy to see all of this happening. The fight is amazing, the backlash gets old real quick
— Casey Millstein (@Cmillstein1) March 26, 2018
What’s so sad is that if people redirected all of the energy & time it takes to make fun of others…bully others…promote negativity… we as a nation could get so much done.
— Francine Macioce (@lularoefrancine) March 26, 2018
Unfortunately, she seems to share a lot of fake/photoshopped pics. You almost have to pity someone that uneducated. Almost.
— Deathworkz (@Deathworkz) March 26, 2018
González did not respond to the altered image.