- A viral video purported to show a mother filming her son as he cried about the bullying he faces at school because he has dwarfism.
- While the video has received positive attention from celebrities and strangers who have banded together to raise more than $360,000 for him, there have been questions about the video's legitimacy stemmed from unfounded conspiracies about his age.
- There's no evidence to suggest that the boy, Quaden Bayles, or his mother Yarraka, are lying about his age.
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When the mother of Quaden Bayles, an Australian boy with a form of dwarfism, posted a video of her son to Facebook where he cried about being bullied at school and said he wanted to end his life, she probably had an idea her son's heartbreaking pleas could go viral.
His mother, Yarraka Bayles, had posted online about her son before, achieving at least some degree of virality in the past, appearing multiple times on Australian television to raise awareness for her son's condition.
"This is what bullying does," Bayles said in the video posted to Facebook, which has since racked up more than 24 million views. "Can you please educate your children, your families, your friends?"
In less than a day, a GoFundMe created by American comedian Brad Williams, who has achondroplasia — the same form of dwarfism as Quaden — raised more than $366,000 from 16,500 unique donors across the world. The donations will go to Quaden and his mother to visit Disneyland in California, according to the GoFundMe page created by the comedian.
Even actor Hugh Jackman got involved. The video was viral, and like with any viral trend, particularly where there is money involved, conspiracies arose and began trending on Twitter.
When the GoFundMe had an unexpected success, the internet turned sour, inventing baseless conspiracy theories about Quaden's age
"yall know that bullied 9 year old people raised over 200,000 dollars for and several celebs gave him attention???," one person wrote on Twitter, gaining nearly 300 retweets. "his names quaden bayles, hes 18 years old and actually rich and an instagram celeb...yall got scammed by an adult m-dget im screaming."
Similar statements were echoed all over Twitter on Friday afternoon, as users debated whether the boy at the center of the viral video was a child, or was really an adult posing as a child. At the time this article was written, #QuadenBayles was the fourth-highest Twitter trend in the US, and "He's 9" was number 12.
The same screenshot, taken from Facebook, was circulated on Twitter that claimed to out Quaden as an 18-year-old, not a 9-year-old.
—shanrrr (@shanohni) February 21, 2020
"Just so you know.. he scammed everybody.. he's 18 has plenty of money and yeah everyone fell for it," the woman wrote in the Facebook post. "Now if I'm wrong please source your link and explain why to me. He's an Instagram celeb @quadosss and deleted captions pertaining to his 18th birthday post."
—🌷✭ (@Trashnaldo) February 21, 2020
There's no evidence to suggest that Quaden and his mother are lying
In a 2015 interview on Australian Network Ten's "Studio 10," Bayles was described as being four years old.
"Quaden Bayles is four years old, and this little boy from Brisbane is a powerhouse," the "Studio 10" host said. "He's inspiring an amazing campaign to raise awareness about dwarfism. He's already been through several bouts of surgery with plenty of support from celebrities."
In the clip, the anchors and his mother also discuss a previous viral clip of Quaden from October 2014.
"That's when things started changing for us," Quaden's mother said in the nearly 5-year-old video.
Bayles, who appears much younger than he does in the recent video, is occupied by a toy while his mother is interviewed by the "Studio 10" hosts. The interview was posted to YouTube on April 12, 2015, meaning if Quaden was 4-years-old at the time, he would either be 8, or at most 9, in February 2019.
Conspiracy theorists have pointed to a website that lists him as an actor, model, extra and influencer
A page for Bayles exists on a website called StarNow, which allows individuals to create profiles to find roles in acting and modeling. While the page includes photos of Bayles accounts and videos of his past appearances on television, like his aforementioned 2015 appearance on "Studio 10," the page does not list any acting credits beyond "previous unpaid speaking roles." He's listed as a "beginner, starting out" underneath the portion of the page about modeling.
"Hi I'm Quaden, I'm 8 years old and I'm one of only a few Aboriginal boys born with achondroplasia dwarfism," the bio on StarNow reads, though it's not clear when it was authored. "I'm currently based in Brisbane but often travelling. I love sports, animals, food, family and fashion. I have a big social media following for my bright and bubbly personality because I love making people laugh. I embrace my uniqueness and inspire people to be happy and appreciate the simple things in life."
The page also features a link to a YouTube upload of Bayles' 25-minute episode of "Living Black," a current-affairs show that airs on Australian network SBS and features stories about Australia's indigenous community. The episode, which aired in 2015, followed Quaden and his mother as he prepared to have surgery on his brain and spine. In the video, Karla Grant, the show's host, describes Quaden as a four-year-old.
Instagram photos have also led to the conspiracies about his age
A couple of photos posted to Quaden's Instagram account seemed to be the place where the theory that he was 18 had originated from, as mentioned in the previous viral Facebook screenshot, as online sleuths and conspiracy theorists have suggested the photos were from his own 18th birthday party. One of the photos in question, which shows Quaden with four other boys is captioned "Happy 18th ma mah," which indicates that he was celebrating someone else's 18th birthday, and not his own. Another photo that also has the large, orange light-up "18" sign does not have a caption.
"So basically hes pretending to be a little kid taking the p-ss out of people with mental health and depression who want to kill them selves and making money off it because hes a little dwarf and is making a profit off it. This makes me even more mad because i used to be in a state of depression and i wanted to kill myself," one person commented under the photo posted to his Instagram page.
The comments on the photos, uploaded on January 18, were mixed. Some defended Quaden and his mother, while others expressed confusion or outrage over the situation.
Yarraka Bayles has a history of posting about her son online, which provides a compelling case that he's actually a child
Quaden's mother, Yarraka, has regularly posted photos and videos of her son to Facebook beginning in 2010 around the time he would have been born. In one album, which has photos posted from December 12 to December 15, 2011, a baby Quaden is celebrating his first birthday, according to captions on his photos. If Quaden celebrated his first birthday at the end of 2011, he would have celebrated his ninth birthday at the end of 2019.
In 2017, his mother posted another album of photos to her public Facebook profile that purportedly shows him celebrating his seventh birthday. There's a similar album of her son's fifth birthday, shared on December 13, 2015.
Yarraka Bayles did not return an Insider request for comment.
While it's not possible to verify whether the video was staged as some have claimed, and while Insider has not verified Bayles' birth certificate, evidence suggests that the boy at the center of the internet's latest viral video is nine-years-old and not 18.
Read the original article on Insider