The world of news is complex - and false stories and visuals are often widely shared on social media. Blasting News’ editorial team spots the most popular hoaxes and misleading information every week to help you discern truth from falsehood. Here are the most shared claims of this week, of which none of them are legit.

FRANCE

Claim: France has “surrendered” the city of Dijon to armed Algerian immigrants

Facts: An article spread widely on social media on June 16 claimed that France had surrendered “City of Dijon to ‘Armed Algerian Immigrants.’”

Truth: France has not “surrendered” Dijon to armed Algerian immigrants. Last week, violent clashes happened in Dijon between gangs from the Chechen and North African communities- but France has not “surrendered” the city.

The Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, tweeted a day after the article was shared that the state will never “back down in the face of violence”, as Reuters reports.

“There’s no question of the Republic retreating from a single square metre of our country, including in the face of this extreme violence,” Castaner says during a broadcasted Q&A with the government.

Moreover, the headline is misleading because it insinuates that the whole city of Dijon was controlled by armed Algerian immigrants but the clashes only took place in the neighborhood of Gresilles. As Reuters reports, the violence in Dijon has quelled since June 17.

UNITED STATES

Claim: George Soros financing transportation for far-left protesters

Facts: A photo was widely shared on social media showing two buses emblazoned with “Soros Riot Dance Squad” at a gas station in Milan, Michigan.

This picture was shared as proof of Soros’ involvement in the protest by financing the transport of far-left militant groups to participate in the riots.

Truth: The photo is doctored. The original picture showed two unmarked buses, as AP Fact Check reports. The words “Soros Riot Dance Squad” were added to the picture ex post factum.

As AP Fact Check reports, the original buses are not being used to transport people towards protests but to provide a local shuttle service. They are owned by a local transportation company.

UNITED STATES

Claim: NASCAR forced drivers to engage in Muslim prayer

Facts: A photo went viral this week on social media with more than 140,000 views picturing drivers on their knees, heads on the floor. The picture’s caption reads: “So NASCAR bans the confederate flag but FORCES all their drivers to do Muslim prayer?”.

Truth: NASCAR did not force drivers to engage in Muslim prayer, as AP Fact Check reports.

The picture’s caption was false. The original picture shows drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway taking part in a NASCAR tradition called “kissing the bricks”, as AP Fact Check precises.

The longstanding tradition was established by driver Dale Jarrett - who won the Brickyard 400 race in 1996, kneeling and kissing the track. Since then, NASCAR winners have continued the tradition. As AFP Fact Check reports, the original picture was actually taken in July of 2016at the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 race.

The auto racing association has received negative publicity since it announced it would ban the Confederate flag from its events - explaining this is necessary to provide a more “welcoming and inclusive environment for its fans.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Claim: Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage stated that the British people are “racist” and “should be ashamed”

Facts: A video was shared on Twitter this week showing a video of Brexit leader Nigel Farage stating: “We are awful, terrible, backward, knuckle-dragging racist people and we should be deeply ashamed.” The caption says: “Wow, this can’t have been easy to admit.

Well done @Nigel_Farage,” implying that the Brexiteer is referring to the British people.

Truth: The video was doctored; in the original video shared by Farage on Twitter on June 18th, the Brexiteer is referring to UK media and its coverage. He says: “Whenever I turn on the BBC, it could be Channel 4, it could be Sky, it doesn’t matter, we are completely bombarded by a narrative that somehow we are awful, terrible, backward, knuckle-dragging racist people and we should be deeply ashamed… . That message, that narrative is coming out of mainstream media constantly.”

CONGO

Claim: Nobel laureate Dr Dénis Mukwege resigned from COVID-19 response teams in DRC due to pressure to over-report deaths and illnesses

Facts: A claim was shared on Facebook on June 16th saying that 2018 Nobel laureate Dr Dénis Mukwege resigned from the COVID-19 response team in DRC.

The post is a screenshot from a Whatsapp conversation sharing the following statement by Dr. Mukwege: "I cannot in any case dirty my Nobel Peace Prize for money, we had been ordered to declare any illness to be coronavirus and any death.” It was then assumed that the reason for Dr. Mukwege’s resignation was pressure from authorities to over-report COVID-19 illnesses and deaths.

Truth: Dr Dénis Mukwege announced his resignation on June 10th - but not for the reasons aforementioned. The Nobel laureate declared that he was leaving the COVID-19 response team in DRC due to a lack of COVID testing labs, as the BBC reports. The BBC additionally reports that Dr. Mukwege was disillusioned by lack of adequate social distancing and quarantine measures particularly for recent returnees from neighboring states.

Dr. Mukwege is now back to working at Bukavu’s Panzi hospital.

BRAZIL

Claim: Prolonged use of face masks changes blood PH

Fact: In a video that has been circulating on social media in Brazil, a doctor claims that wearing a face mask for an extended period of time can cause hypercapnia, a condition that results from too much carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, causing blood to become acidic.

Also according to the author of the video, this also creates a favorable environment for the Coronavirus to survive in the body.

Truth: According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, this claim has no scientific basis, insofar as face masks are porous and can therefore allow for gas exchange. In an interview with fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, Daniel Lahr, professor at University of São Paulo’s Biosciences Institute, rejected the argument that acidic blood would facilitate the presence of the Coronavirus in the body: “the virus replicates in epithelium [external surface of the organs], not in the blood.” The use of face masks is recommended by the WHO because it works as a physical barrier from droplets expelled during speech or breathing, reducing the chances of getting infected.

PERU

Claim: Infrared thermometer guns can damage the retina

Fact: A video shared more than 28,000 times on Facebook warns of the supposed risks that people are exposed to by having their temperatures checked with an infrared thermometer. "Do not allow them to take your temperature with a laser thermometer gun directly to your face, because if the laser beam touches your eyes it could cause a problem in your retina," says the video.

Truth: Contrary to what the video says, infrared thermometers do not emit radiation. They are responsible only for capturing the energy emitted by the human body. In an interview with the Peruvian newspaper La Repubblica, specialist in ophthalmology and retinal surgery Héctor Palacios says: “thermometers are used to capture radiation from the body, not to send you a laser beam.” "That red dot seen on infrared thermometers is an indicator of where you are pointing, but it is not damaging the eye or the retina," he adds.

UNITED STATES

Claim: AOC tweeted that businesses should be kept closed until after the presidential election

Fact: An image of a tweet supposedly authored by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York was shared widely on social media this week, in which she says that governors should keep businesses closed until after the 2020 presidential election to undermine President Donald Trump’s chances at re-election. The tweet itself, dated May 20, says: "It’s vital that Governors [sic] maintain restrictions on businesses until after the November elections because economic recovery will help Trump be re-elected. A few business closures or job losses is a small price to pay to be free from his presidency.

#KeepUsClosed."

Truth: According to Snopes, this tweet was a fake. The message does not appear in Ocasio-Cortez timeline and it is also missing from any database that tracks deleted tweets.

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