Seventeen-year-old Parkland shooting survivor Emma González (@Emma4Change) has become a national spokesperson for the movement against gun violence. At the March For Our Lives this weekend, the teenager spent a poignant and powerful six minutes and twenty seconds -- the amount of time the Parkland gunman spent murdering seventeen of her classmates and teachers -- on stage in complete silence. Now, BuzzFeed News reports that people are sharing a fake photograph of González ripping up the Constitution.
The original picture is real enough -- it's from a Teen Vogue photo shoot, in which González is ripping up a bullseye target like someone would use at a gun range. Someone deliberately altered the image to ensure this kind of fake, malicious campaign against a teenager went viral.
"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
The bottom line is that in an era when many people have easy access to image manipulation tools and can use the power of social media to launch a self-propelling smear campaign, it's easy to make an image like this go viral to further an agenda. And the trouble is that the people who want to believe that this image is real won't be deterred by the poor quality of the image manipulation. It's just another example of how malicious fake news can spread incredibly quickly.