Not too long ago, a Facebook post filled our feeds, claiming that Richard Gere’s disappointment in humanity after going undercover as a homeless person inspired him to hand out hundreds of dollars. Although the post shared by an unofficial Richard Gere account accumulated over a million likes and more than 600,000 shares, it wasn’t long after it went viral that the claim was debunked as a hoax — at least partially.
If you’ve spent any time on Facebook, you’re likely not a stranger to hoaxes. However, we often rely on sites like Snopes to let us know which viral stories are true and which ones are false. Gere, however, set the record straight himself in a recent Facebook video Q&A.
The 45-minute meeting with producer Oren Moverman, from Facebook’s New York office, included Gere not only addressing the stigma around homelessness, but also touched on his passion for addressing the invisibility of the homeless population and becoming better global citizens.
Gere also answered questions from a thread requesting people share their stories, and took a moment to respond to the viral Facebook post, which included an image taken from Time Out of Mind, a film Gere stars in. “While the story that accompanied the photograph was somewhat fictional (especially the $100 handouts), it seemed to have touched something important in people. I’d like to find out what that is and what we can do together to make something good and meaningful happen for our homeless brothers and sisters.
Richard Gere and Oren Moverman Facebook Q&AHi, Richard and Oren here, We are so sorry for the delay, we ran into a technical difficulty. This was a first for us. We were so happy to speak with you today. Thank you for your heartfelt questions, we look forward to continuing the conversation in an interactive way. Thank you Jena for letting us borrow your page to host this important dialogue.
Posted by Jena Malone on Wednesday, October 28, 2015
So, while it turns out — as we expected — that only part of the Facebook post was true, it did serve as a spotlight on Gere’s passion for addressing homelessness, and through its popularity could inspire an important discussion. And among Facebook hoaxes, Gere’s fictional time spent undercover doling out $100 bills to homeless people, may rank among the most useful.