When you Google search the term "crisis actor," a picture of Boston resident Emma MacDonald is one of the first results. But she's not an actress. She's the victim of a fake news story that has been spreading for five years.
A photograph of her crying at a vigil for Boston Marathon bombing victims has become a part of an internet meme. MacDonald is pictured next to other crying brunettes, suggesting that she has been a part of a "false flag" operation at Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado, and now Parkland, Florida.
"I'm not okay with my face, or the other women in the picture, being used as a way to distract people from the real [issue]," said MacDonald.
The meme labeling her as a crisis actor has been shared thousands of times, and is re-created regularly after mass shootings in the U.S. and abroad.
"It's very strange," she said. "I know I'm not a crisis actor. Where's my paycheck if I'm a crisis actor?"
When the meme first surfaced, she tried to ignore it. Eventually, she tried to respond to the fake news stories about her and debunk them. But it was impossible to keep up.
"People should stop sharing things that aren't verified on the Internet, and maybe think a little deeper," said MacDonald.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
It upsets her to see people label the students in Parkland, Florida as "crisis actors," because she says it's a distraction and a way to "desensitize" the public from mass shootings and gun violence.
She hopes by speaking out now, people will report the image as "fake" and stop its spread. She also hopes people will consider the harm they can do by hitting "share."
"These are real humans behind [the photos], dealing with real tragedy," she said.