Conspiracy theories have already begun to spread in the wake of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, and thousands of Americans are making their outrage about it known. But someone who acutely knows the pain that fake rumors can bring is using her powerful voice to stand up against hate. Chelsea Clinton tweeted about the Parkland shooting theories to express her anger as well as her desire to take the hurt the students are feeling away.
"Never thought I would wish for the conspiracy theorists to push insanity du jour about my family (looking at you #Pizzagate)," Chelsea wrote late Wednesday morning. "Then they turned to the courageous #Parkland students, and here I am hoping they soon return to making up stories/memes/gifs about me and ____."
As the country saw happen after the devastating Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead, conspiracy theorists have come out of the woodwork to claim that it's all just a hoax. The students — who are pushing to enact real gun control change — are just "crisis actors," the theorists say. And even Donald Trump Jr. liked two tweets asserting that a student is just a "cover" for his FBI agent father.
But the students are pushing back hard on this as well. "I’m not a crisis actor. I’m somebody that had to witness this and live through this and I continue to have to do that," student David Hogg told Anderson Cooper.
During the 2016 presidential election, a fake conspiracy theory known as "Pizzagate" went viral. The theory claimed that a Washington, D.C., pizzeria called Comic Ping Pong was the site of a human trafficking ring led by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta. The restaurant got dozens of threats before, ultimately, a 28-year-old man — who declared he was there to "self-investigate" the potential trafficking ring — came to the pizzeria with three guns and fired off several shots.
No one was injured, but the incident showed the very real dangers that fake theories can have.
When Chrissy Teigen and her daughter Luna were the subject of conspiracy theories late last year, Chelsea reached out. A conspiracy theorist tweeted photos of Luna, claiming that Teigen's use of a pizza emoji meant something more sinister, and Teigen began getting threats. Chelsea tweeted at Teigen and spoke out about some of the threats she had received regarding her daughter Charlotte, as well.
Chrissy, sending you & beautiful Luna a huge hug. It is awful & never ok when people threaten or demean any child. I’ve lost count of the Twitter accounts who’ve threatened Charlotte with #FGM. While I never bother to report threats against me, I now report every one against her.
So, Chelsea knows what the Parkland students are going through, to hear awful rumors about yourself and your family. And while the support of such a prominent voice is surely encouraging for the teens, the Parkland students who have been the subject of these conspiracy theories are standing up for themselves, too.
"WE. ARE. NOT. CRISIS. ACTORS," student Kali Clougherty wrote on Twitter. "WE LIVED THROUGH THIS. you should be ashamed of yourselves."
Disclosure: Chelsea Clinton's husband Marc Mezvinsky joined Social Capital, an investor in Bustle Digital Group, in mid 2017 and joined the Board of Bustle Digital Group in early 2018.