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- The claim that Disney CEO Bob Chapek was arrested for human trafficking comes from a satire site called the Vancouver Times. It is not a real story.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek is clashing with Gov. Ron DeSantis over a new law that restricts lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools. Chapek wants state leaders to repeal the law derided as "don’t say gay," leading DeSantis and Republican leaders to criticize the company as "woke" and explore removing its special status that allows it to operate as its own government.
Among all of the headlines about Chapek, there is at least one story out there that is wildly inaccurate.
An Instagram post shared a screenshot of a news article with the headline, "CEO of Disney arrested for human trafficking." Below the headline is a photo of Chapek, and the first paragraph of the story falsely claims he was arrested at his home in Southern California for charges of trafficking a child across state lines and being in possession of child pornography.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We searched for a link to the article and found it posted on the website of the Vancouver Times. But there’s just one problem: the Vancouver Times describes itself as a satirical website. That means the article is not, in fact, true.
The article appears under the website’s Satire section.
It’s easy to see how this type of article could trick people — in the Instagram post, there are no markings indicating that the article is fake. The name of the website — Vancouver Times — may also sound to some people like a legitimate publication. But satire is something we’ve seen before used as a tool to mislead people.
Chapek has apologized for not taking a more forceful stand against the Florida bill. The company has also paused all political donations in the state.
"I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally," Chapek said in a letter to employees.
There’s no evidence whatsoever that Chapek was arrested for human trafficking. We rate that claim Pants On Fire!
The Hollywood Reporter, Why Disney Won’t Say Much About Florida’s "Don’t Say Gay" Bill, March 2, 2022
Tampa Bay Times, How Disney worked behind the scenes against the ‘don’t say gay’ bill, Mar. 12, 2022
New York Times, Disney Employees Walk Out Amid Furor Over Florida Legislation, Mar. 22, 2022
NBC, In Disney, DeSantis finds his corporate foil, April 2, 2022
ClickOrlando.com, DeSantis blasts Disney for ‘woke’ response on Florida sexual identity in schools bill, Mar. 10, 2022
The Hill, DeSantis says he thinks Disney shouldn’t have special self-governing status, Apr. 1, 2022
Walt Disney World News Today, Florida Passes New ‘Stop WOKE’ Act Which Requires Disney and Other Private Companies to Alter Diversity Training, Mar. 22, 2022Instagram post, Mar. 19, 2022
Vancouver Times About Us page, accessed Apr. 7, 2022
Vancouver Times, CEO of Disney arrested for human trafficking, Mar. 17, 2022
USA Today, Fact check: False claim that Disney CEO was arrested in human trafficking operation, Mar. 23, 2022
Reuters, Fact Check-False reports of Disney CEO arrest stem from satirical article, Mar. 18, 2022
AFP, Satire article falsely links Disney CEO Bob Chapek to human trafficking, Mar. 25, 2022
Vulture, Disney ‘Pausing’ Florida Political Donations, Says Self-proclaimed ‘Ally’ Bob Chapek, Mar. 11, 2022
Forbes, Disney Says Striking Down ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law Is Company’s ‘Goal’ After DeSantis Signs Bill, Mar. 28, 2022
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