Facts Matter: Hanks not quarantined with volleyball named Wilson

  • Tom Hanks in "Cast Away."

    Tom Hanks in "Cast Away."

Updated 3/21/2020 7:46 PM

A photo of Tom Hanks holding Wilson, a volleyball from the movie "Cast Away," while quarantined is fake, according to The Associated Press.

Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are in fact quarantined in Australia after the couple tested positive for the coronavirus.


The manipulated photo, which began circulating on social media shortly after Hanks, 63, announced his condition, shows the actor in a hospital room holding a volleyball with a red face drawn on it, resembling his character's make-believe friend from the film. In "Cast Away," Hanks plays a FedEx executive stranded on an uninhabited island following a plane crash.

The image of Hanks holding the ball was taken from a 2015 video after he attended a New York Rangers game. The Rangers posted the video showing Hanks at the hockey game when the volleyball was tossed to him. He caught it and stared at the ball before turning Wilson's face to the camera and chanting "Let's go Rangers," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The image of Hanks holding the ball was superimposed over a picture of a hospital room taken by the European Pressphoto Agency, the AP said.

The doctored photo originally ran in The Batoota Advocate, an Australian satire publication, accompanied by a story saying the hospital staff gave Hanks the volleyball to keep him company while he was quarantined. However, it was shared on social media as being real, the AP said.

Hanks is in Australia shooting a movie about Elvis Presley. He and his wife remained there in isolation after being discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, the AP said.

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Amazon delivering more than medical supplies

Amazon reported earlier this month it would temporarily halt third-party sellers from shipping and storing nonessential items in its warehouses until April 5. This was interpreted by some online users to mean Amazon would only ship essential items, according to Snopes.com.

The Wall Street Journal headline, "Amazon prioritizes medical supplies, household staples from merchants amid coronavirus," was posted by one user, along with the comment, "Well that's it folks! If it's not medical supplies or household staples you ain't getting it! Amazon has shut down! The world really has come to an end."

Not quite.

A program that lets third-party sellers, for a fee, store items in an Amazon warehouse allows Amazon to quickly ship those products to a customer. Due to a recent increase in online shopping, Amazon informed those sellers it would prioritize medical supplies, household items and high-demand products, Snopes said.

Amazon will continue to ship any nonessential items stocked in its warehouses and the policy won't affect products shipped directly by third-party sellers.


Hot air won't cure coronavirus

A video that claims sticking a hair dryer in your face or sitting in a sauna can cure the coronavirus is really just a bunch of hot air.

Titled, "How to Kill Coronavirus: Conquering COVID-19," the information is not only false, but it shows a "dangerous lack of understanding about science," according to Snopes.com. Some copies of the video contain a logo for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, giving the false impression it was issued by the agency.

No medical institutions have said breathing in the hot air from a hair dryer or sauna will cure the coronavirus, Snopes said. The video contains false information stating the virus congregates in the nasal cavities and can be stopped by hot air.

Spreading this and other false information during a pandemic could "potentially have lethal consequences," Snopes said.

The video was created by Dan Lee Dimke, who describes himself in the footage as a doctor, Snopes said. His online biography claims he holds a doctoral degree in education, along with being a jet helicopter pilot, a hypnotist, a futurologist and a celebrity impressionist. But there's nothing listed that would support qualifications to give medical advice.

Snopes didn't receive an answer from Google, owner of YouTube, when it asked about the false information being spread by the video, but shortly after the inquiry, the link to the video was removed. However, other versions remain on the internet.

Oprah arrest story fake

A recent story circulating on Facebook claims Oprah Winfrey was arrested, her home in Boca Raton, Florida was seized and police are digging up the tunnels.

Winfrey was not arrested, there are no tunnels and she doesn't own a home in Boca Raton, according to PolitiFact.com.

The false post, which included photos purported to be Winfrey's Florida property, claimed the house was raided during a sex-trafficking sting, Snopes.com reported. The piece was part of a larger conspiracy theory posted online.

Winfrey took to Twitter to address the rumor, "Just got a phone call that my name is trending. And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It's NOT TRUE. Haven't been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world."

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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