- A viral unfounded conspiracy theory alleging that furniture company Wayfair is involved in child sex trafficking has led to hundreds of reports with the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
- Polaris, the non-profit organization that operates the hotline, said in a press release that “the extreme volume of these contacts has made it more difficult for the Trafficking Hotline to provide support and attention to others who are in need of help.”
- Wayfair has denied the allegations and there is no evidence to support the claims, which were popularized by believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A national organization fighting to end human trafficking says the believers in the unfounded Wayfair human trafficking conspiracy theory are overwhelming the organization with reports and making it harder to do its work.
Polaris, a non-profit that runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline, said in a press release on Tuesday that “the extreme volume of these contacts has made it more difficult for the Trafficking Hotline to provide support and attention to others who are in need of help.”
Polaris said that the reports included no information “beyond what has been widely shared online. Nor have any of these reports been made by someone who has a specific connection to any alleged missing children.”
Believers in the conspiracy theory think that the furniture company is selling human children who have gone missing by disguising them as pillows and other goods. The theory went viral in the last few weeks after being spread by QAnon believes on Twitter and Facebook, though both platforms told Insider they had removed certain posts containing this misinformation.
Wayfair has denied the allegations and there is no evidence to support the claims.
The QAnon conspiracy theory movement has amplified numerous debunked or unsubstantiated allegations of child sex trafficking against numerous celebrities and companies. An early instance was the debunked Pizzagate theory of 2016, which falsely alleged that Hillary Clinton and her aides were involved in illicit activities with children as part of a deep-state cabal of elites. In the years since, as that conspiracy theory evolved, more celebrities and politicians, including Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Duff, and Chrissy Teigen, have all been falsely accused of trafficking.
Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right who tracks white nationalism, previously told Insider that QAnon believers targeted wealthy elites on a “misplaced moral crusade” against pedophilia.
In the press release, Polaris acknowledged that the hundreds of reports about Wayfair appeared to come from genuine concern, but asked that everyone “learn more about what human trafficking really looks like in most situations, and about how you can help fight trafficking in your own community.”