Oprah Winfrey has been forced to deny being arrested for sex trafficking crimes after rumours about her began swirling on the internet on Tuesday.
It came after a number of unverified Twitter posts alleged the TV host's home in Boca Raton, Florida had been raided due to her involvement in a global trafficking ring.
Winfrey, 66, dispelled the rumours, many of which referenced her friendship with convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein, on Twitter as she emphatically stated they were "not true".
She wrote: "Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It’s NOT TRUE. Haven’t been raided, or arrested.
Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It’s NOT TRUE. Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody.🙏🏾— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) March 18, 2020
"Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody."
The Guardian reports that the fake claims have similar origins to rightwing conspiracy, QAnon.
The Washington Post previously described the conspiracy theory as one that “centres on the idea that an anonymous government official, or ‘Q,’ has been secretly sharing messages and symbols that serve as evidence of a hidden plot to overthrow Trump".
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay came to Winfrey’s defence, pointing out her philanthropic work over the years as well as her openness in discussing her own experience of abuse.
She tweeted: “Trolls + bots began this disgusting rumor. Mean-spirited minds kept it going. #Oprah has worked for decades on behalf of others. Given hundreds of millions to individuals + causes in need.
“Shared her own abuse as a child to help folks heal. Shame on all who participated in this.”