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Parody video feeds false claims against online retailer Wayfair

July 13, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows an advertisement for Wayfair with a child being found in a delivery box.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video was created as a parody. It has no connection to the online home furnishings retailer Wayfair. 

THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing a parody video, falsely stating it shows a Wayfair advertisement that the company “never wanted anyone to see.” It was spread on the internet after claims targeting Wayfair emerged late last week suggesting the company’s utility cabinets, which have names like Samiyah and price tags over $12,000, were a front for human trafficking. 

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The company issued a denial Friday saying there was no truth to the claims.

“The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced,” Wayfair said in a statement. “Recognizing that the photos and descriptions provided by the supplier did not adequately explain the high price point, we have temporarily removed the products from site to rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately depict the product to clarify the price point.”

The manipulated video, which was created from a FedEx commercial, takes segments from the ad, changes the company’s name on the boxes to Wayfair, and ends with a child being found in a delivery box.  “Children” is written over the image and the voice over says, “Possibilities. What we deliver.”It ends with the Wayfair logo. 

The FedEx advertisement, titled “What’s Inside,” can be found on YouTube and shows people opening up the boxes to see what’s inside. In one frame of the video, a child’s feet can be seen sticking out of a large box as they climbed inside. 

“FedEx delivers millions of packages around the world every day. But FedEx delivers more than just packages or pallets. We deliver possibilities,” the FedEx advertisement summary says on YouTube. 

Jack Parker Elliott, a video editor and producer at Barstool Sports, created the parody video and uploaded it to his Twitter account @JackPElliott on Sunday after first noticing the FedEx commercial while watching golf on T.V. 

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“this is the #wayfair ad they don’t want you to see!! RT download and share before they scrub the internet! #wayfairchildtrafficking #wayfairgate,” Parker Elliott tweeted with the video, which now has more than 3,700 likes and 4,300 retweets on Twitter. 

Elliot said he knew about the claims online about Wayfair and wanted to add to the conversation. 

“I wasn’t expecting that response,” he said. “I thought it was pretty obvious it was a parody.”

He said he took the FedEx advertisement and frame by frame replaced the FedEx logo with Wayfair. He said he found the last frame of a child coming out of a box by searching online. 

QAnon supporters, who believe there is a deep state sex trafficking ring, have promoted the the false claims about Wayfair on social media. 

“This is the Wayfair ad they don’t want you to see!!” said the caption on a YouTube video with a QAnon hashtag shared on Monday. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536