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If Your Time is short
- Tom Hanks wasn’t arrested.
Ever since Tom Hanks tested positive for COVID-19 in Australia, where he was shooting a movie, misinformation about the actor has spread on social media. One conspiracy theory claims his COVID-19 diagnosis was actually a cover for something more nefarious.
In a July 13 Facebook post, Hanks is pictured wearing a green bandana over his face. In two photos — close ups of his ankles — red circles are drawn around his right ankle.
"Look who has a new ankle bracelet!" the post says. "Tom Hanks. Some of you don’t know it but Mr. Hanks was arrested in Australia for pedophilia. He went on national TV to say he had COVID-19 and he was quarantine himself. Not true. He was in custody for a time then house arrest is n his hotel. Now, he’s a flight risk."
This 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.)
First of all, Hanks wasn’t arrested in Australia for pedophilia. There’s no evidence to support that and no news stories. If he had been charged with sex crimes against children, it would have been widely covered in the media.
On March 11, the actor announced on Twitter that he and his wife, actor Rita Wilson, had tested positive for COVID-19. He said that they would follow the directions of medical officials.
"We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires," he said. "Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?"
Several days later, they were released from the hospital in Queensland, Australia, but remained in self-isolation while they recovered from the coronavirus.
By March 28, American news outlets were reporting that Hanks and Wilson were both back stateside and had been photographed driving around Los Angeles, where they live.
The Daily Mail published the photos of Hanks that appear in the Facebook post in May 2020. Captions of the images say Hanks is in Los Angeles, not Australia.
"Despite already having beaten COVID-19, Tom Hanks wasn’t willing to take any chance on Wednesday, with the Forrest Gump star covering his face with a green bandana when he ventured out in Los Angeles," one caption says.
The story didn’t mention him wearing an ankle bracelet (something else that would definitely draw the attention of reporters and the paparazzi). The area around his ankle looks more like a gathering of fabric from his pants.
QAnon groups have pushed the unfounded claim that Hanks among other celebrities — like Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey — have been arrested in connection with a child sex trafficking ring. USA Today searched for both DeGeners and Hanks on California's sex offender registry and the U.S. Department of Justice’s national sex offender registry and found no records. Oprah responded publicly to the accusations.
"NOT TRUE," she tweeted. "Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody."
We rate this Facebook post Pants on Fire.
Facebook post, July 13, 2020
Daily Mail, Tom Hanks covers his face with a green bandana as he ventures out in LA, May 20, 2020
PolitiFact, No, Tom Hanks doesn’t have a Wilson volleyball for his coronavirus quarantine, March 12, 2020
PolitiFact, Would Tom Hanks have qualified for a coronavirus test in the US? March 12, 2020
PolitiFact, ‘The Simpsons' did not predict Tom Hanks’ illness from coronavirus, March 16, 2020
AAP, Tom Hanks released from Qld hospital, March 18, 2020
NBC News, Tom Hanks and Rita WIlson return to U.S. after recovering from coronavirus, March 28, 2020
Mother Jones, How QAnon fueled a hoax about Oprah being arrested, March 18, 2020
USA Today, Fact check: Ellen, Oprah, many others are not under house arrest for child sex trafficking, June 18, 2020
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