The expensive furniture sold by the US company Wayfair is at the heart of a bizarre conspiracy theory that predicts allegations of child trafficking, which is spreading online.
The unfounded claims first appeared on June 14 in the United States, but have since become a global trend.
Wayfair said that “there is obviously no truth in these claims.”
What is Wayfair’s conspiracy theory?
The claims originated in the QAnon community – many of whom believe in a far-right conspiracy theory that there is a secret conspiracy of an alleged “deep state” against President Trump and his supporters.
A well-known activist tweeted the high price of the storage lockers sold by the online retailer Wayfair.
The user pointed out that the lockers were “all listed with girls’ names”, prompting followers to claim that the furniture actually had children hidden inside an alleged child trafficking ring.
The initial tweet gained little traction until the discussion was rekindled on a Reddit discussion group called “r / conspiracy” almost a month later, on July 9th.
At that point, QAnon’s followers were making alleged links between the fact that some expensive Wayfair furniture is named after girls and real cases of missing children in the United States of the same names.
Some of these children are no longer missing and a woman, who was mentioned when a toilet with her name was linked to her alleged disappearance as a teenager, made a live Facebook denying the claims.
He said it never disappeared in the first place.
What is Wayfair saying?
When it comes to why some of his items are named after children, Wayfair explained that the company uses an algorithm to name its products (other retailers also use names to brand their products).
He acknowledged that the high prices listed may have been confusing, but he says specific lockers are large “industrial size” items intended for commercial or commercial purposes.
A spokesman told BBC News: “We have temporarily removed the products from our site to rename them and provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately describe the product to clarify the price.”
There are also unfounded claims that custom pillows that can cost up to $ 10,000 are so expensive because they involve trafficking a child.
Wayfair refuted this, and put it at a price error on their website. The same types of anomalies can sometimes be seen with other online sellers.
A new conspiracy theory
But it wasn’t long before QAnon activists advanced a new theory.
Some said that after entering into an important Russian search engine, Yandex, stock unit numbers (SKUs) of specific Wayfair products, images of young women would appear in the search results.
This claim was true, but it was due to a technical problem in the search engine.
Newsweek reported that a Yandex search for “any random number string” would return the same results.
It appears that Yandex has corrected the problem now, since we have found similar searches that no longer return images of young women.
Where did Wayfair’s conspiracy spread?
Although conspiracy theory began in the United States, it quickly became a global trend.
According to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned social media analytics tool, the term Wayfair generated 4.4 million engagements on Instagram. It also quickly spread to groups and public pages on Facebook, resulting in over 12,000 posts and nearly a million direct engagements.
Analyzes conducted by BBC Monitoring show that the theory also gained enormous traction in Turkey, with the second highest amount of content after the United States.
In Latin America, a YouTube post about the conspiracy of a popular Argentine YouTube personality had nearly 90,000 views over the weekend.
Has this happened before?
It has similarities to Pizzagate’s unfounded conspiracy theory that spread on the Internet when Hillary Clinton was running for the President of the United States in 2016.
The fabricated claims, which started on social media, suggest that a pizza restaurant in Washington DC was at the center of an alleged infantile sex ring connected to the former presidential candidate’s inner circle.
The conspiracy theory became so great that it led an American man to open fire in the pizza restaurant in question.
Additional reporting by Shayan Sardarizadeh
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