In March 2022, a rumor was widely circulated on social media that Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney, had been arrested for human trafficking:
There is no truth to this rumor. Disney’s CEO was not arrested for human trafficking. This rumor originated with a website that labels their content as satire.
Vancouvertimes.org published an article titled “CEO of Disney arrested for human trafficking” on March 17. While a number of people presented this story on social media as if it were a genuine news item, this article is a work of fiction. Vnacouvertimes.org writes on its “About” page:
“Vancouver Times is the most trusted source for satire on the West Coast. We write satirical stories about issues that affect conservatives.”
Social media users may have been taken in by this ruse as this fictional story was published on the heels of a genuine news story involving criminal activity from Disney employees. CBS News reported that 108 people, including four Disney employees and a retired judge, were arrested as part of an undercover human trafficking sting in Florida:
Authorities have arrested 108 people, including alleged child sexual predators and those seeking prostitutes, in a six-day undercover human trafficking operation in Florida. Among those taken into custody were four Disney employees and a retired judge, police said.
“The arrests of a human trafficker and four child predators alone makes this whole operation worthwhile,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Wednesday. “Where there is prostitution, there is exploitation, disease, dysfunction and broken families.”
The four Disney employees who were arrested either worked in IT for Disney, or at one of the company’s restaurants. No high level employees (such as the company’s CEO) were arrested.
Disney Employees and Former Judge among 108 Arrested in Human Trafficking Sting, Florida Police Say. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-human-trafficking-sting-disney-employees-former-judge/. Accessed 18 Mar. 2022.
Fact Check: No Evidence CEO Of Disney Was Jailed On Child Sex Abuse Charges | Lead Stories. https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2021/02/fact-check-ceo-of-disney-jailed-on-child-sex-abuse-charges-conservative-beaver.html. Accessed 18 Mar. 2022.
Gregory, John. “No, Disney CEO Bob Chapek Was Not Arrested for Human Trafficking – Theme Park Tribune, Theme Park News.” Theme Park Tribune, 18 Mar. 2022, https://www.themeparktribune.com/disney-misinformation-no-disney-ceo-bob-chapek-was-not-arrested-for-human-trafficking/.
Pires, Jason. “CEO of Disney Arrested for Human Trafficking.” Vancouver Times, 17 Mar. 2022, https://vancouvertimes.org/ceo-of-disney-arrested-for-human-trafficking/.