Oprah Winfrey denies ‘awful, fake’ arrest rumors
Toyin Owoseje and Paul P. Murphy, CNN
(CNN) — Oprah Winfrey has denied reports she was arrested and her home raided by law enforcement.
The 66-year-old talk show host and media mogul became one of Twitter’s top trending topics on Tuesday night after rumors began circulating on social media that she, along with other celebrities, had been arrested for sex trafficking.
After being made aware of the rumors, Winfrey took to Twitter Wednesday to dispel them.
Addressing the tweets, she told her 42.8 million followers: “Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing.”
“It’s NOT TRUE,” she added, “Haven’t been raided or arrested.”
She signed off the post by reminding her followers that she was doing her part to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus by practicing social distancing.
“Just sanitizing and self-distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody,” she said.
CNN has reached out to Winfrey’s representatives for further comment.
Oprah appears to be the latest celebrity victim of QAnon, a group made up of a number of individuals operating independently online, who espouse outrageous conspiracy theories that they post on every single social media platform.
Followers post fake stories of a large-scale conspiracy that pits US President Donald Trump against a global elite seeking to murder him.
One Facebook post that is still active on the social media platform — it has more than 1,000 shares — claims that a house in Boca Raton, Florida, which they say is Oprah’s house, was seized, roped off with red tape.
A YouTube livestream video, with more than 48,000 views, further perpetuates that conspiracy, saying the entire house is roped off with police banners.
And Oprah is not the only victim of QAnon’s latest false conspiracy theory.
One post on Twitter — with more than 2,100 retweets or shares — falsely claims that Tom Hanks, who tested positive for coronavirus in Australia, was actually arrested for pedophilia. It goes on to say that other A-list celebrities will soon be arrested.
The group has also pushed the untrue conspiracy theory known as “Pizzagate.”
That theory has had some dangerous consequences. In 2017, a North Carolina man, armed with an assault rifle, opened fire in a Washington pizzeria.
He claimed he was attempting to find and rescue child sex slaves whom he believed were being held at the restaurant — a belief allegedly based on his reading of a false story circulating online that connected Hillary Clinton’s campaign adviser to the pizzeria through coded messages in his leaked emails.
The man eventually surrendered and no one was hurt. He was convicted on gun charges and is now serving a four-year prison sentence.