Fact check: Ellen, Oprah, many others are not under house arrest for child sex trafficking

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The declare: Effectively-known politicians and celebrities are underneath home arrest for intercourse trafficking

In the event you have been to consider a rash of conspiracy theories on social media, many boldface names are in deep trouble with the regulation – and it is not simply the coronavirus pandemic conserving them at dwelling.

Latest posts allege that celebrities and VIPs akin to Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, the Gateses and the Clintons, amongst others, are underneath home arrest for baby intercourse trafficking.

Some posts goal particular individuals, akin to DeGeneres. One declare has been shared greater than 3,500 occasions as of Thursday. Customers within the feedback say the discuss present host could be seen in her newest movies with an ankle bracelet. The accusations reside on Twitter, the place customers speculated a person standing behind DeGeneres in one in every of her latest movies is a police officer monitoring her arrest.

Different broadly circulated posts listing their politicians and celebrities, and subsequent to names are the phrases “arrested & executed” or “arrested & underneath arrest.”

One more Fb submit that has been shared 32,000 occasions reads, “It is loopy many ppl do not know Oprah (Winfrey) on home arrest for Intercourse trafficking children, in addition to Ellen, Tom Hanks, Clinton’s this listing is lengthy.” Customers within the feedback linked the declare to YouTube conspiracy idea movies, a few of which have racked up greater than 14 million views, that declare A-list celebrities are concerned in a big intercourse trafficking scandal.

Oprah Winfrey is not in trouble with authorities.

Most of the claims could be traced again to QAnon followers, a bunch of individuals satisfied that distinguished figures in leisure and politics are collaborating in a big baby intercourse trafficking ring.

What’s QAnon?

The accusations will not be new. Celebrities and politicians have been a goal for years of a bunch of individuals spreading conspiracy theories on-line who confer with themselves as “QAnon.”

Joseph Uscinski, a College of Miami professor who has been learning conspiracy theories for many years, advised USA TODAY in 2018 that QAnon followers are normally “Trump supporters who’ve a powerful conspiracy and are in all probability evangelical.”

The Guardian reported in 2018 {that a} consumer named “Q,” who claims to be a authorities insider with high safety clearance, started posting messages on the darkish net years in the past and created a bunch of nameless leaders who’re known as “Anon.”

The individual behind the conspiracy theories, “Q,” claims to have data about a big baby intercourse trafficking ring, alleging some politicians and celebrities put on ankle displays and are underneath investigation. The group makes an attempt to decode nameless feedback on darkish net message boards akin to 4chan and 8chan.

From the archives:QAnon: The conspiracy idea defined, after Q posters noticed at Trump’s Florida rally

QAnon unfold a baseless suggestion in 2016 {that a} pizza parlor in DC was a entrance for a kid intercourse ring and began a conspiracy idea known as “Pizzagate,” which led to violent actions. In 2016, a 28-year-old North Carolina man opened fireplace contained in the DC pizza store, claiming he was rescuing baby intercourse slaves. Police stated in court docket paperwork that the suspect surrendered “peacefully when he discovered no proof that underage kids have been being harbored within the restaurant.”

Specialists weigh in

Travis View, host of the QAnon Nameless podcast, advised USA TODAY that QAnon followers are inclined to solid probably the most suspicion on “the largest, most established celebrities,” akin to Hanks and Winfrey. Sometimes, those that are well-loved by leisure media shoppers with a protracted, distinguished profession are focused, he stated.

The explanation why QAnon devotees fixate on particular celebrities is “they’re completely satisfied that the one approach you’ll be able to form of obtain that prime diploma of success is by doing one thing morally wicked,” View stated.

Yotam Ophir, an assistant professor of communication on the College of Buffalo, advised USA TODAY that claims round intercourse trafficking and baby abuse have been introduced for hundreds of years and have a tendency to resurface in numerous varieties.

Ophir stated many celebrities in all probability haven’t publicly denied the claims as a result of denying them could make issues worse. “There isn’t any counterargument you’ll be able to present that may persuade folks that it’s not true,” he stated.

No proof of home arrests

California’s Megan’s Regulation mandates underneath Penal Code 290 that the state Division of Justice notify the general public about registered intercourse offenders and that state victims of intercourse crimes should register as such.

A seek for “Ellen DeGeneres” and “Tom Hanks” on California’s intercourse offender registry and the US Division of Justice’s nationwide intercourse offender registry lead to no information.

Representatives for DeGeneres didn’t reply to USA TODAY for additional touch upon the claims.

Claims that the person behind DeGeneres is a police officer monitoring her home arrest will not be true. The person in a number of the movies, that are recorded from her dwelling throughout the COVID-19 disaster, is her producer, Andy Lassner. “He is exterior as a result of we’re in shelter-in-place right here in California,” DeGeneres stated in one in every of her segments.

Celebrities publicly deny claims

In March, Oprah Winfrey took to Twitter to disclaim web experiences that her Florida residence had been raided by regulation enforcement and that she was arrested for intercourse trafficking.

“Simply acquired a telephone name that my title is trending. And being trolled for some terrible FAKE factor,” Winfrey tweeted. “It is NOT TRUE. Have not been raided, or arrested. Simply sanitizing and self-distancing with the remainder of the world.”

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted, “Trolls + bots started this disgusting rumor. Imply-spirited minds maintain it going. #Oprah has labored for many years on behalf of others. Given a whole bunch of thousands and thousands to people + causes in want. Shared her personal abuse as a baby to assist of us heal. Disgrace on all who participated on this.”

Claims that philanthropist Invoice Gates is concerned in intercourse trafficking hint again to a rumor that he visited Jeffrey Epstein’s island a number of occasions. Reuters reported that regardless that Gates had met with Epstein, a assessment of flight logs revealed that he by no means visited Epstein’s island.

Truth verify:Invoice Gates will not be planning to microchip the world by way of a COVID-19 vaccine

In 2018, Chrissy Teigen defended herself towards claims linking her to the Pizzagate conspiracy idea and her husband, John Legend, threatened a lawsuit.

Our ranking: False

The declare that Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey and different celebrities and politicians are underneath home arrest for baby intercourse trafficking is rated FALSE as a result of it’s not supported by our analysis. Such claims are rooted in conspiracy theories which can be supported by no proof however which have circulated on social media platforms for years.

Our fact-check sources:

  • USA TODAY: “QAnon: The conspiracy idea defined, after Q posters noticed at Trump’s Florida rally”
  • The Guardian: “What’s QAnon? Explaining the weird rightwing conspiracy idea”
  • USA TODAY: “Choose orders DC pizzeria shooter held with out bond”
  • California Legislative Info, Penal Code 290 textual content
  • California Megan’s Regulation web site
  • US Division of Justice, nationwide intercourse offender search
  • TheEllenShow on YouTube: “Ellen Practices Social Distancing from Common Andy”
  • Oprah Winfrey tweets, March 18, 2020
  • Ava DuVernay tweets March 18, 2020
  • Travis View, interview
  • Yotam Ophir, interview
  • Reuters: “False declare: Invoice Gates traveled to Epstein’s island a number of occasions”
  • USA TODAY: “Chrissy Teigen defends herself from Pizzagate conspiracy theorists: ‘That is actually scary’”

Thanks for supporting our journalism. You possibly can subscribe to our print version, ad-free app or digital newspaper duplicate right here.

Our truth verify work is supported partially by a grant from Fb.

Training protection at USA TODAY is made attainable partially by a grant from the Invoice and Melinda Gates Basis. The Gates Basis doesn’t present editorial enter.

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