Multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube claim a nine-year-old Australian boy with dwarfism, Quaden Bayles, is actually an adult.
The misleading posts were published shortly after a viral video of Bayles was shared by his mother in which he described being bullied due to his genetic condition.
But previous media interviews with Bayles and his family and their digital footprints over the past decade are consistent with him being nine years old.
An example of the misleading claim about Bayles’ age, alongside a video of him holding Australian dollars, was published on Twitter on February 22, 2020.
The tweet reads: “Quaden Bayles aka the ‘9 year old’ who was supposedly a bully victim is a FAKE. He’s really an 18 year old rich influencer.”
Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:
Bayles, an indigenous boy from Brisbane, Australia, made global headlines after his mother, Yarraka Bayles, published footage of him crying and expressing suicidal thoughts after being bullied, AFP reported on February 21.
The video caught the attention of celebrities and athletes, resulting in US comedian Brad Williams to start a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $470,000 to fund a trip to Disneyland in California, USA, as reported here by AFP on February 27. Bayles was also invited to lead the National Rugby League’s (NRL) Indigenous All Stars team onto the field before a match in Queensland on February 22.
Online evidence against misleading claims
The claims are misleading.
On February 22, 2020, Bayles’ aunt, Mundanara Bayles, clarified on Facebook that the photo of Bayles’ in an “18th birthday” frame was taken at the birthday party of her son, Garlen. An archived version of the photo shows that the frame reads “Garlen’s 18th Birthday”.
Mundanara and Bayles are also seen in this YouTube video, which Mundanara says was filmed before the NRL match on February 22. At the 33-second mark, Mundanara asks: “Are you 18?” Quaden replies: “No, I’m nine.”
Media interviews conducted in 2015, including by Australian broadcasters Network 10 and SBS, described Quaden as a four-year-old boy from Brisbane who had helped raise awareness about dwarfism. Both interviews have been embedded below.
Family’s digital footprint
Digital footprints for Bayles’ family are consistent with him being nine years old.
In May 2014, Yarraka posted this photo of Bayles on Facebook alongside the caption: “Quaden Jnr 3 y.o with achondroplasia”.
Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism, according to Mayo Clinic.
Mundanara posted another screenshot of a 2014 photo of Bayles from Yarraka’s now-deactivated Instagram account that is captioned: “Quaden Junior 3 y.o”.