In September 2023, Chet Hanks exposed the role his father, actor Tom Hanks, supposedly played in the Maui wildfires.
On Sept. 5, 2023, the celebrity gossip YouTube channel named Just In (@JustInCeleb) posted a video to the social media platform with the title, "Tom Hanks' Son Exposes Dad's DISTURBING Role In Maui Fires." The video was viewed more than 100,000 times in a day.
In the thumbnail image for the video, it claimed that Chet Hanks, the son of Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, had said he was "done covering for you!" The "you" referred to Tom Hanks. The thumbnail showed the latter wearing devil-like horns on his head, as well as pictures of a fire, a blue house that was circled, and a no-talking sign.
In addition to the YouTube video, we found that the video was also posted on TikTok in three separate videos. The third part of the video received over 140,000 views in under 24 hours on the platform. We also found the video posted on BitChute.com.
At the time of this writing, we found no evidence that Chet Hanks had publicly commented on the 2023 Maui wildfires, let alone said that he was "done covering" for Tom Hanks' supposed role in causing the fires.
The video cited as "evidence" for the claim by Just In was posted over a year before the devastating wildfires occurred on the Hawaiian island, and was completely unrelated to the claims made in the video.
We found the video was posted to Chet Hanks' YouTube account on Feb. 15, 2023, titled, "The Truth About Growing Up As A Hanks."
USA Today reported that the video introduced his new YouTube channel and was launched as part of a new fitness program he had started.
There were clues in the Just In YouTube video itself that the claim wasn't true. A disclaimer was displayed several times during the Just In video that claimed the content of the video could be "gossip, rumors, or exaggerated." A longer version of the same disclaimer was also found at the bottom of the video's description.
The video also mentioned other claims that had previously been found to be false about the Maui fires, like the claim we fact-checked that the fires were started by a "secret energy weapon." The false claim that homes and businesses painted blue were spared in the wildfires was also mentioned in the video, which reputable news organizations like The Associated Press and PolitiFact fact-checked.
We previously fact-checked another false rumor from Just In that linked Tom Hanks to the 2023 Maui wildfires, stating that he had a "shady role" in the fires. That video pushed a false claim about Hanks owning a house in Maui, which was also mentioned in the video about Chet Hanks "exposing" his father.
Emery, David. "Were 2023 Maui Fires Caused by a 'Direct Energy Weapon'?" Snopes, 11 Aug. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/maui-wildfires-caused-by-direct-energy-weapon/.
Liles, Jordan. "Tom Hanks 'Panics' as Oprah Winfrey Reveals His 'Shady Role' in Maui Fires?" Snopes, 1 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/hanks-oprah-maui-fires/.
O'Rourke, Ciara. "True Blue? No. Story about Celebs' Paint Preferences Is Fake." PolitiFact, 25 Aug. 2023, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2023/aug/25/viral-image/true-blue-no-story-about-celebs-paint-preferences/.
Phan, Karena. "Social Media Videos Push Baseless Conspiracy Theory That Blue Items Were Spared from Maui Wildfires." The Associated Press, 30 Aug. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-conspiracy-blue-items-maui-wildfires-118319149774.
Segarra, Edward. "Chet Hanks Opens up about Fame, Growing up as Tom Hanks' Son: 'A Double-Edged Sword.'" USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2022/02/16/chet-hanks-growing-up-famous-parents-tom-hanks-rita-wilston/6821107001/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.
"The Truth About Growing Up As A Hanks." YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQvxJA7p2_Q. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.