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- This headline was fabricated, and we found no evidence to corroborate its claim.
Following conspiracy theories that wrongly claimed recent wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, were started by directed energy weapons comes a fake headline posted recently on social media that leans into the unfounded idea that such weapons couldn’t burn things that were blue.
"Why the heck are celebs all painting their Maui properties the same weird shade of blue?" reads what looks like a screenshot of an Oct. 18, 2022, news headline by writers Mikki Brammer and Elizabeth Fazzare. "Obama, Clinton, Hanks, DeGeneres, Tiegen, Kid Rock, now even Oprah. What exactly do billionaires see in this frankly (gulp) off-putting color?"
A photo of Oprah Winfrey next to a photo of a waterfront house with a blue roof appears above the headline.
"What do you think it is??" said one Instagram post that shared the image.
"The DEW do not attack a certain blue color," one person responded, using an abbreviation for directed energy weapons. "That’s why."
Another Instagram post described a video with the headline as "a must watch to learn why those blue cars & blue umbrellas in #Maui did not burn." (We investigated that, and it’s not because they were blue or because directed energy weapons were used.)
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
We searched but couldn’t find the story in the Instagram posts, nor any evidence corroborating the headline’s claim.
That’s because it doesn’t exist, and the post’s image was altered.
The bylines and dateline come from an Oct. 18, 2022, Architectural Digest story by Brammer and Fazzare. But that story was about the "top 5 interior design trends of 2022," not about celebrities painting their Maui houses blue.
We looked up the property’s owner information, and it’s not Winfrey, who reportedly owns about 1,000 acres on Maui. The parcel with the blue-roofed house has changed hands since Oct. 18, 2022, but the previous owner wasn’t Winfrey, either.
Directed energy weapons, which use energy fired at light speed, didn’t start the Maui fires. No one can start a wildfire and burn only specific colors, Scott Savitz, senior engineer at Rand Corp., a global policy think tank, told PolitiFact.
We rate this post False.
Instagram post, Aug. 23, 2023
Instagram post, Aug. 22, 2023
County of Maui, Hawaii, parcel information, visited Aug. 25, 2023
PolitiFact, Fires can hop; directed energy weapons did not spare blue things in Hawaii, Aug. 24, 2023
Architectural Digest, These are the top 5 interior design trends of 2022 so far, Oct. 18, 2022
Architectural Digest, Oprah Winfrey Buys 870 Acres in Maui for $6.6 Million, March 7, 2023
The New York Times, Many Celebrities Own Property on Maui, Aug. 10, 2023
Hawai’i Life, Hawaii Waterfront Home with Expansive Ocean, Mountain, and Neighbor Island Views for $1.2M, Sept. 8, 2020
Redfin listing, sold May 2, 2023
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