False claims about missing children in Maui wildfires debunked

October 6, 2023

Contrary to viral social media claims, thousands of children did not go missing in the aftermath of the deadly Maui wildfires in August.

According to an AP Fact Check, the Maui Police Department and the FBI only reported one minor as unaccounted for following the fires.
This minor was later identified as a victim of the blaze.

Social media amplifies misinformation

Posts on various platforms including Instagram and Facebook perpetuated the false narrative.

One Instagram post inquired, “What happened to the missing children of Maui?” suggesting that only 122 names remained unaccounted for post-fire.

However, initial data from state officials revealed between 1,000 and 1,100 individuals, not specifically children, were unaccounted for due to the fires.
By September 29, this number had dwindled to just 12 individuals.

Misunderstanding leads to conspiracy theories

Claims regarding child trafficking and other conspiracy theories have often stemmed from misconstrued facts.

A social media post claimed, “Over 1000 children went missing in Maui and the cops didn’t let the parents go back in to look for them.”

Further fueling these theories, another post alleged the events were “all planned from the fire to the child trafficking.”

Videos accompanying these claims emphasized the apparent disappearance of over 1,000 children, stating, “I’m talking 1,050 kids gone with a trace they have absolutely NO CLUE WHERE THESE CHILDREN ARE IT’S LIKE THEY VANISHED INTO THIN AIR.”

Such conspiracy narratives, especially those around child trafficking, are commonly found within the QAnon community.

Reuters also debunked claims suggesting the Maui fires were deliberately started by high-tech weaponry.

Governor Josh Green of Hawaii commented on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on August 20.

He mentioned: “More than 1,000 are unaccounted for, about 1,050.”
However, he referred to the overall number of individuals, not specifically children.

FSJA Comment

It is crucial to underscore the importance of factual information, especially in the aftermath of devastating events.

Misinformation, particularly when it goes viral, can divert attention and resources from genuine recovery efforts and victim support.

It’s essential to approach such claims with a skeptical eye, ensuring we prioritize truth and clarity over sensationalism.

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