FACT CHECK: No, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Was Not Arrested For Possession Of Child Pornography
A viral Facebook post shared over 900 times claims Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was arrested by the FBI after being caught with 13,000 files of child pornography.
There is no evidence Hastings was arrested. The claim stems from an article published by Toronto Today, a website that has previously published misinformation.
In recent days, a rumor that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been arrested on child pornography charges has been circulating on social media. The claim appears to have started circulating amid Netflix receiving backlash for “Cuties,” a French film about an 11-year-old girl that joins other young girls in a dance group “named ‘the cuties’ at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process,” according to the movie’s description on IMDb.
Some viewers and politicians have criticized the film for allegedly sexualizing young girls, with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz asking in a letter to Attorney General William Barr for the Department of Justice to “determine whether Netflix, its executives, or the individuals involved in the filming and production of ‘Cuties’ violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography,” The Associated Press reported. Netflix defended the film in statements that echo director Maïmouna Doucouré, saying that “Cuties” is a “social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” per The Washington Post.
Contrary to the Facebook post’s claim, there is no indication Hastings has been arrested for possession of child pornography. Had Hastings been arrested, it would have made international headlines, yet the Daily Caller News Foundation found no credible media reports corroborating such a claim. Such a high-profile arrest would also likely warrant a press release from the FBI. (RELATED: Did Barack Obama Sign A $90 Million Deal With Netflix To Produce A Series ‘About Trump’s Impeachment’?)
The claim seems to originate from the website Toronto Today, a website that has previously published misinformation, including an article that falsely claimed the late actor Chadwick Boseman was poisoned. The website on Sept. 12 published an article, titled “Netflix CEO gets BUSTED with 13,000 files of CHILD PORNOGRAPHY,” but appears to have since deleted it. The article contained no sources corroborating its claims.
Some of the details about the supposed arrest in the Toronto Today article appear to match those from the arrest of Utah businessman Douglas Saltsman, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 210 day sentence and 48 months of probation, per the Daily Mail. Details such as the number of files and how many children were affected match those in news stories about Saltsman, with some lines in the Toronto Today article being nearly identical.
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