Oprah Winfrey was forced to debunk a viral conspiracy theory that she was arrested for involvement in a global sex trafficking ring.
The rumor was sparked by a QAnon Facebook post, according to The Washington Post. The post claimed that the coronavirus was a “covert U.S. intelligence operation” created to cover up the arrests of politicians and celebrities involved in a global sex trafficking ring, which President Trump was trying to dismantle. Bots and trolls quickly spread the rumor across social media, with some stating that Winfrey’s home had been raided and police could be seen outside her house. Many social media users took the bait.
Winfrey tweeted Wednesday morning that the rumors were “NOT TRUE.”
“Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It’s NOT TRUE. Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody.”
Close friend Ava DuVernay reprimanded those who helped spread the false rumor, tweeting, “Trolls + bots began this disgusting rumor. Mean-spirited minds kept it going. #Oprah has worked for decades on behalf of others. Given hundreds of millions to individuals + causes in need. Shared her own abuse as a child to help folks heal. Shame on all who participated in this.”
QAnon is a pro-Trump conspiracy theory about “deep state” traitors working to bring down the president. The absurd rumor got its start on 4chan message boards before spreading to other social media platforms. Those who believe in the conspiracy theory were also involved in the spread of Pizzagate, a fake news story that claimed Hillary Clinton was head of a pizza restaurant child sex ring.