Posts Spread Unfounded Claims About Disney Company’s Financial Health

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Quick Take

The Disney Company opposed Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, also referred to by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.” Disney’s actions sparked calls from conservatives for a boycott of Disney — and a flurry of unfounded or exaggerated claims on social media that the company was suffering declines in subscribers, visitors and stock value.


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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” bill — also known as “Don’t Say Gay” — on March 28. The law, which is set to take effect July 1, prohibits discussion of sexuality and gender identity with students in kindergarten through third grade. 

“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” the law states. 

Critics of the law say vague language, such as, “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students” — along with the avoidance of using words such as “gay,”  “lesbian,” “transgender” or “nonbinary” —  allows the law to cloak harmful effects it could have on members of the LGBTQ community. 

Target, Starbucks and more than 200 other companies and organizations have publicly opposed or signed a statement from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, broadly condemning all anti-LGBTQ legislation.

After the Walt Disney Company faced backlash from employees for not speaking out against the bill, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the company’s opposition to the proposed legislation and signed the Human Rights Campaign’s statement.

In addition, Charlee Corra, a Disney heir, came out publicly as transgender while condemning anti-LGBTQ bills and announcing up to $250,000 in donations to the Human Rights Campaign. The amount was later raised to $500,000 by Roy P. Disney, the grandson of Roy O. Disney, a co-founder of the Disney company. 

Conservatives then began a movement to boycott Disney, which was followed by posts on social media claiming without evidence that Disney was losing subscribers, visitors and stock market value.

“Disney Plus has had more than 350,000 cancellations in the past five days alone,” read a Facebook post shared on April 12, which included an image of Mickey Mouse snared in a mousetrap.

Another Facebook post shared a screenshot of a now-deleted tweet from Robert Hyde, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Connecticut. Hyde’s tweet claimed, “Disney’s stock is down more than 70% and attendance is down more than 55%. 10.1 million people canceled their Disney Plus subscription. Everything woke goes broke. #Groomers.”

Those claims, however, are either highly inflated or unfounded.

Streaming networks — including Disney Plus — don’t typically provide an ongoing count of their total subscribers. The information needed to make the claim that Disney Plus was losing subscribers in a matter of days is not publicly available. 

The last time Disney disclosed the number of subscribers on Disney Plus was in its first quarter earnings report for fiscal 2022 released in February. The company reported “a significant increase in total subscriptions across our streaming portfolio to 196.4 million, including 11.8 million Disney+ subscribers added in the first quarter.” The company will disclose its second quarter earnings report on May 11.

While Disney’s stock has declined over the past year, it’s not by “more than 70%” as claimed in posts shared on social media. The company was trading at $131.67 on April 14, down 30% from its 52-week high of $190.40.

The stock has been generally trending down since around September 2020, but since March 10 — when Chapek made a statement against the bill — the trading price has only decreased from 133.64 on March 10 to 130.47 on April 15. That is just a 2% decline in a little over a month. 

Attendance at Disney’s theme parks fell an average of 68% during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Disney has been rebounding, according to company newsletters. It reported more than $7 billion in revenue over the first quarter of fiscal 2022, compared to $3.6 billion in the prior-year quarter, and was reaching capacity attendance at some parks in March.

We reached out to Disney for comment on the claims in the social media posts, but we didn’t hear back.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.  

Sources

2020 Theme Park Attendance Report Quantifies COVID-19 Impact on Disney Parks.” BlogMickey.com. 6 Oct 2021.

Abcarian, Robin. “Column: Amid Florida’s fight with Disney over LGBTQ rights, a Disney family member comes out as trans.” Los Angeles Times. 10 Apr 2022. 

Boardwine, Andrew. “Already Reaching Capacity, Disney World Expects Massive Spring Break Crowds.” Inside the Magic. 28 Feb 2022.

Blair, Elizabeth. “After protests, Disney CEO speaks out against Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.” NPR. Updated 10 Mar 2022. 

Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation.” Freedom For All Americans. Updated 12 Apr 2022.

Casale, Maddy. “Why Are People Canceling Disney Plus?” Decider. 8 Apr 2022. 

Constantino, Annika Kim. “Businesses oppose Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ ban on discussion of LGBTQ issues in public schools.” CNBC. Updated 31 Mar 2022.  

Coffey, Kelly. “Disney Parks Revenue Brings In Over $7 Billion In First Quarter of 2022.” Inside the Magic. 9 Feb 2022.

Designerpirate (@designerpirate). “The world is full of amazing places. #boycottdisney.” Twitter. 7 Apr 2022. 

Diaz, Jaclyn. “Florida’s governor signs controversial law opponents dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay’.” NPR. 28 Mar 2022.

Hesse, Monica. “There’s a reason the ‘don’t say gay’ bills don’t say what they mean.” Washington Post. 12 Apr 2022.

Juxtaposed Ideas. “Disney: Down 30% – Buy Now To Own Your Next Century Marvel Magic.” Seeking Alpha. 11 Apr 2022.

Munson, Emilie. “Controversy destroyed his 2020 campaign, but Robert Hyde will run again in 2022.” Connecticut Post. Updated 9 Nov 2020. 

Rufo, Christopher F. (@realchrisrufo). “Parents in Southern California have organized a rally to #BoycottDisney. They want the company to stop promoting gender ideology to children.” Twitter. 6 Apr 2022. 

THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY REPORTS FIRST QUARTER EARNINGS FOR FISCAL 2022.” Walt Disney Company. 9 Feb 2022.

White, Abbey. “Disney Companies Post Social Media Statements Denouncing Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Ahead of Walkout.” Hollywood Reporter. 22 Mar 2022.

Yang, Maya. “Florida’s ‘don’t say gay’ bill inspired a chilling wave of Republican legislation.” The Guardian. 11 Apr 2022.

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