Fact Check

Did BBC Report Tom Hanks Was Arrested for 'Child Porn Possession'?

The actor has been a target of pedophilia-related conspiracy theories for several years.

Published May 10, 2023

 (Image Via @ReturnOfKappy/Twitter)
Image courtesy of Image Via @ReturnOfKappy/Twitter
Claim:
In 2021, BBC News displayed a real headline stating that actor Tom Hanks had been arrested on 135 counts of child porn possession.

On May 9, 2023, a Twitter user posted a collage of images including what appeared to be a screenshot of a BBC report that actor Tom Hanks was arrested for possession of child pornography. The headline read: "Tom Hanks arrested on 135 counts of child porn possession." Beside it was a photograph of Hanks with his wife, Rita Wilson.

Other photos in the collage appeared to show Hanks wearing an ankle bracelet and talking to law enforcement officers.

(Image Via @ReturnOfKappy/Twitter)

The alleged BBC screenshot was fabricated via digital editing, and its headline was false. It had been circulating, both on websites and on social media, since at least June 2021.

A search on BBC News for mentions of Hanks being arrested did not return any such report. Some of the BBC stories that popped up during the search displayed photographs whose backgrounds resembled that of the digitally altered image. Those photographs were taken when Hanks and Wilson were in Australia in 2021 for a film shooting. They both got COVID-19 during their stay in the country and were hospitalized and later released.

The fake screenshot appeared to have been created by digitally altering an actual BBC page. Reuters, which also fact-checked this image, found an archived BBC page dating from June 2021, some elements of which were an exact match for those found on the manipulated screenshot.

For example, the three bullet points under the Hanks piece, as Reuters' fact-check noted, appeared to be related to vaccines: "The bullet points 'How can I get my second jab sooner?' 'What are the lockdown rules[?]' and "Your Covid questions answered' can be made out under the headline and photograph of Tom Hanks and his wife."

Snopes had previously fact-checked the claim about Hanks wearing an ankle bracelet and found it to be false. No legitimate sources have reported that Hanks was arrested, despite unfounded rumors dating back to 2020. The actor has been targeted by QAnon conspiracy theorists, without evidence, for years as a supposed pedophile. For more information about QAnon, see Snopes' explainer.

Given that the claim was based on a digitally altered headline and there is no evidence that Hanks was arrested, we rate the claim as "False."

Sources

BBC Headline "Tom Hanks Arrested on 135 Counts of Child Porn Possession" Quickly & Curiously Removed. 23 June 2021, https://web.archive.org/web/20210623044837/https://www.debarelli.com/post/bbc-headline-tom-hanks-arrested-on-135-counts-of-child-porn-possession-quickly-curiously-removed.

"Fact Check-The BBC Did Not Publish False Story on Tom Hanks Arrest." Reuters, 9 Aug. 2021. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-tom-hanks-hoax-idUSL1N2PG20A.

Home - BBC News. 18 June 2021, https://web.archive.org/web/20210618150222/https://www.bbc.com/news.

Norton, Tom. "Fact Check: Image of 'BBC Report' about Tom Hanks' 'Arrest' for Abuse." Newsweek, 29 Nov. 2022, https://www.newsweek.com/fact-check-image-bbc-report-tom-hanks-abuse-allegations-1763230.

"Posts Resurface Fake BBC Article Targeting Tom Hanks." Fact Check, 1 Dec. 2022, https://factcheck.afp.com/doc.afp.com.32WM3XR.

"Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson 'Feel Better' after Coronavirus Diagnosis." BBC News, 23 Mar. 2020. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-52003980.

"Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Released from Coronavirus Treatment." BBC News, 17 Mar. 2020. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51921513.

Damakant Jayshi is a former writer for Snopes.

Article Tags