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Fact Check: Jada Pinkett Smith 'Panics' as Her 'Sickening' Role in Maui Fires Leaks?

Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Claim:

An online video accurately reported that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had a "sickening role" in benefitting from the August 2023 Maui wildfires.

Rating:

Rating: False
Rating: False

On Sept. 4, 2023, the purported celebrity gossip YouTube channel Spill Today published a video that claimed actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had a "sickening role" in benefitting from the Maui wildfires that scorched parts of the Hawaiian island just weeks before.

The clip's title read, "Jada Pinkett [Smith] PANICS as Her SICKENING Role In Maui Fires LEAKS."

The video was viewed just over 11,000 times on YouTube. However, it was a repost of the same video on TikTok that really took off, earning nearly 2 million views in around one week.

This clip's narration, scripting, sequencing and thumbnail image all looked to have been a product of artificial intelligence (AI), video-creation tools.

The video's thumbnail image was misleading, to say the very least.

The video (archived) began as follows:

CBS NEWS CLIP: Now, some residents say they've been receiving calls from wealthy real estate investors and developers who are trying to purchase their fire-ravaged land.

AI-GENERATED NARRATOR VOICE: It appears the recent wildfires that occurred in Lahaina have now exposed how Hollywood elites have been scamming land from Hawaiian residents for years. Apparently, this has continued to happen despite the residents claiming they have no plans of selling their lands.

LOCAL RESIDENT NEWS CLIP: Lahaina is not for sale.

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, Hawaiian authorities have warned these elites against coercing the residents to sell their land.

HAWAII GOV. JOSH GREEN: Please don't approach them with an offer to buy land. Please don't approach their families to tell them that they're going to be better off.

NARRATOR: Among the celebrities who have allegedly benefitted from this real estate scheme is none other than the controversial couple, Will and Jada [Pinkett] Smith.

WSJ'S NEWS HUB CLIP: Remember we've got Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith selling their home. There's a lot of secrecy about the selling of this home which is why the pictures aren't quite as close as we normally would have got.

The truth of this matter was that the title of the video was false. The clip never provided evidence that Will Smith or Jada Pinkett Smith had benefitted from the Maui wildfires. The video simply provided information about how the family had previously sold two properties on the completely separate Hawaiian island of Kauai in 2011 and 2017, years before the deadly wildfires on Maui.

As we've seen with many of these AI-generated videos across multiple celebrity gossip YouTube channels, this clip contained a misleading video title with a mix of old and unrelated news, false claims and other emotionally charged moments that likely were meant to elicit angry responses in the comments. Such videos often end up with hundreds or thousands of comments from users who indicated that they had believed the misleading information presented in the clips.

We previously reported about other misleading and false videos just like this one that also were on the subject on the Maui wildfires, including for actor Jason Momoa, entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey and actor The Rock, actor Keanu Reeves, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, country star Dolly Parton and others.

Sources:

Halberg, Morgan. "Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith Sold a Second Dreamy Hawaii Home." Observer, 13 Sept. 2017, https://observer.com/2017/09/will-smith-jada-pinkett-smith-hawaii-home-kauai/.

LaMagdeleine, Izz Scott. "Jason Momoa Accuses Oprah and The Rock of 'Stealing Money from the Poor' via Fundraising?" Snopes, 6 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/jason-momoa-maui-fundraiser/.

---. "Keanu Reeves Slammed 'Hollywood Elites' for Their 'Shady Role' In Maui Fires?" Snopes, 15 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/keanu-reeves-maui-fire/.

Liles, Jordan. "Dolly Parton's Charitable Work Was Twisted on TikTok To Diss Other Celebs." Snopes, 11 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/news/2023/09/11/dolly-parton-tiktok-maui/.

---. "The Rock Mistakenly Admits 'Shady Role' in Maui Fires with Oprah Winfrey?" Snopes, 5 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-rock-maui-fires/.

---. "The Rock 'Panics' After Lies About Maui Wildfires Were Accidentally Leaked by Oprah?" Snopes, 11 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/rock-panics-maui-oprah/.

---. "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/.

"Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith Sell in Kauai | Private Properties." Wall Street Journal, 22 Dec. 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204464404577112980880332066.html.