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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 5, 2023

Don’t freak out: This claim about Oprah Winfrey and missing children in Maui, Hawaii, is unfounded

If Your Time is short

  • This story is unfounded. 

  • Allegations about 15 missing children discovered after the Maui wildfires stemmed from a fake news story.

Media magnate Oprah Winfrey has been a regular target of misinformation since wildfires ravaged Maui, Hawaii, in August. 

Now a Facebook post suggests she’s connected to the disappearance of more than a dozen missing children on the island. 

"Oprah FREAKS OUT after 15 kids are finally found on Maui," reads text over a video shared  Oct. 2 on Facebook. The words "save the children" appear below it.

"Why are people speculating about Oprah for this incident?" someone in the video says. "Is she involved in such a horrific alleged act? You are about to find out." 

The narrator later says, "There are still some children unaccounted for, so in light of Oprah’s alleged past involvement in similar incidents, some individuals are now raising awareness about her possible connection to this supposed latest tragedy." 

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The video then cuts to a man saying, "Where are the kids, Oprah? It was only two and a half weeks ago, and now we’re not allowed to talk about it, we’re not free in this country." 

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 found no credible news reports or other authoritative sources to corroborate this post’s claim. We did find a YouTube video that includes some of the clips in the Instagram post’s video, and it refers to an unfounded and debunked story about Navy SEALs finding "15 missing Maui children imprisoned in padlocked cages lined with piddle pads."

Around the time that story was published Sept. 17, only one of 31 people unaccounted for was a known minor, according to the Maui Police Department and FBI.

We rate claims that Oprah "freaked out" over this fake news story, much less that she’s responsible for missing minors in Maui, False.


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Don’t freak out: This claim about Oprah Winfrey and missing children in Maui, Hawaii, is unfounded

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