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Fact check: Twitter CEO resignation not related to Ghislaine Maxwell trial

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 12/1/2021 Daniel Funke, USA TODAY
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The claim: On the first day of Ghislaine Maxwell's trial, the CEOs of Twitter, Walmart and CNBC all resigned

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey leaving, appoints successor © USA TODAY Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey leaving, appoints successor

After the federal sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell began Nov. 29, some on Facebook claimed the chief executives of several American companies had resigned.

"On the FIRST day of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial," reads text in a Nov. 30 post from Head Nerds in Charge West, "the CEO of Twitter resigned; the CEO of Walmart resigned; the CEO of CNBC resigned."

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The post accumulated more than 1,700 shares within one day. Similar claims have also been shared thousands of times on Facebook and Instagram, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool.

"Interesting," reads the caption on another Facebook post with the text, which appears to stem from a Nov. 30 tweet. "Coincidences or....?

Maxwell's trial, in which she is accused of procuring underage girls to be sexually abused by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, has inspired a rash of misleading claims online. This post is the latest example of such misinformation.

Fact check: List of Ghislaine Maxwell 'co-conspirators' is from a previous lawsuit

Jack Dorsey stepped down as Twitter's CEO on Nov. 29, but neither the CEO of Walmart nor the chairman of CNBC did the same. And there is no evidence Dorsey's resignation is related to Maxwell's trial.

USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the claim for comment.

Dorsey stepped down, other executives didn't

Prior to his resignation, Dorsey, one of Twitter's co-founders, had served as the company's permanent CEO since October 2015. In a Nov. 29 statement, he said he was stepping down because he believes "the company is ready to move on from its founders."

"Parag (Agrawal) is CEO starting today," Dorsey wrote in an email to Twitter staffers, which he shared Nov. 29 on the social media platform. "I'm going to serve on the board through my term – May-ish – to help Parag and (Chairman) Bret (Taylor) with the transition. After that... I'll leave the board."

The CEO of Walmart and the chairman of CNBC did not make similar announcements.

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Mark Hoffman is chairman of CNBC, according to the NBC Universal website – a role he assumed in April 2015 after serving as president of the business news channel for a decade. Hoffman hasn't resigned from his position.

At Walmart, Doug McMillon has served as president and CEO since 2014. A company spokesperson told USA TODAY he has not stepped down as CEO.

"I don't know where that's coming from," Randy Hargrove, senior director of national media relations at Walmart, said in a phone interview. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

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The social media posts may have conflated McMillon with Brett Biggs, who is stepping down as Walmart's chief financial officer. The company announced Nov. 29 that Biggs was leaving Walmart to "begin a new chapter of opportunities in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors."

There is no evidence Biggs or Dorsey's resignations are related to Maxwell's federal criminal trial. USA TODAY has previously debunked conspiracy theories connecting Epstein and Maxwell to celebrities and other public figures.

Our rating: Partly false

Based on our research, we rate PARTLY FALSE the claim that, on the first day of Maxwell's trial, the CEOs of Twitter, Walmart and CNBC all resigned. On Nov. 29, Dorsey resigned as Twitter's CEO and Biggs resigned as Walmart's CFO. There's no evidence either was related to Maxwell's trial. CNBC's chairman and Walmart's CEO have not announced their resignations.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Twitter CEO resignation not related to Ghislaine Maxwell trial

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