Earlier this week, a video of a Hasbro doll of Poppy, Anna Kendrick’s character from the children’s movie Trolls World Tour, started going viral. The video showed a woman examining the doll and pointing out a voice-activation button located on the doll’s crotch. “Stuff has been going on in the world about sex trafficking in kids and things that are thrown in our kids’ faces to groom them,” the woman says, saying she found something about the doll “disturbing.” She then points out a motion-activated sensor on the doll’s crotch, detailing how it made giggling, “gasping” sounds when you push it.
The claim was partially debunked by Facebook after it went viral, with independent fact-checkers labeling it as “partly false” — the button between its legs wasn’t actually a button, but a sensor that was intended to be activated when the doll sat down. Yet the video proliferated across the internet, prompting the creation of a Change.org petition from mom Jessica McManis, demanding Hasbro remove the doll from its shelves. “What will this toy make our innocent, impressionable children think? That it’s fun when someone touches your private area? That pedophilia and child molestation are OK?,” the petition reads. The petition garnered nearly 250,000 signatures and ultimately prompted Hasbro to pull the doll from shelves.
“This feature was designed to react when the doll was seated, but we recognize the placement of the sensor may be perceived as inappropriate,” Hasbro SVP of Global Communications Julie Duffy says in a statement to Rolling Stone. “This was not intentional and we are happy to provide consumers with a replacement Poppy doll of similar value through our Consumer Care team. We are in the process of removing the item for purchase.”
The story of the Trolls 2 doll being removed from shelves was covered by mainstream publications across the country, from the Associated Press to Huffington Post. What few of these stories noted was that the campaign to remove the doll actually took root among conspiracy theorists, including QAnon and Pizzagate believers, who have co-opted the anti-trafficking cause to promote the theory that a cabal of pedophiles is running a massive child sex trafficking ring.
The video was initially uploaded by Jamie Cornaby, a mother from Utah, earlier this week. But it didn’t go viral until it was reposted by @redpillbabe, an Instagram influencer with 116,000 followers who has the QAnon phrase #WW1WGA (“where we go one, we go all”) in her bio. “In what morphed dimension of the simulation IS THIS OK?,” she wrote in the caption accompanied by the hashtags #pizzagateisreal, #billclintonisapedo, #whatisQ, and #wayfairgate. The video has received 1,493,466 views on her account alone.