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No, the military didn’t arrest a FEMA employee over ‘mass grave site’ in Hawaii

One video about the conspiracy theory was viewed 3.3 million times.


Mikael Thalen


One Dumb Conspiracy is a weekly column that debunks the mostly wild conspiracy theories swirling around the web and runs on Mondays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.


A sensational claim making its way around the internet alleges that a top administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was arrested by the military for ordering employees to secretly put the bodies of Hawaii wildfire victims into a mass grave. Though spread by scores of people online, the claim is utter nonsense.

In one example, a video on TikTok claimed that the military arrested FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks earlier this month and charged him with treason alongside FEMA Director Deanne Criswell.

The video, produced by TikTok user @beautymrked, continues by alleging that a FEMA memo signed by Crimswell and Hooks not only “ordered agents in Maui to deny fire victims food and water” but to dispose of bodies as “discriminately as possible.”

The TikTok user even goes on to claim that U.S. Marines discovered 250 bullet-filled corpses at the site of the alleged mass grave in Hawaii, suggesting not only that the government staged the fires but that FEMA is murdering the island’s residents.

The video, which has been viewed an astonishing 3.3 million times, was quickly met with shock by countless users. The video appeared to be taken down as of Thursday afternoon.

“This made my stomach turn. So sad,” one user wrote.

Unsurprisingly, @beautymrked at no point in the video cites the source of the claims, which are based on a single online news article. It turns out that the source is Real Raw News, a notorious website well known for regularly curating fake stories.

Real Raw News has fooled conspiracy theorists for years despite admitting on its own website that it publishes “humor, parody and satire.”

No evidence whatsoever shows either the government started the fires or that FEMA has been burying corpses in secret mass graves.

The debunked claim is just one of many made in recent days regarding the fires in Hawaii, which conspiracy theorists have blamed on everything from the government to laser beams from space.

Why it matters

Websites like Real Raw News continue to fool a great number of people online despite being debunked on a weekly basis.

While efforts to battle misinformation are important, many conspiracy theorists will outright ignore any facts that conflict with their worldview. Always make sure to check sources when coming across grandiose claims online.

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