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 are legit.

USA

Claim: Beyoncé is actually an Italian woman named Ann Marie Lastrassi

Fact: In a Twitter post in early June, KW Miller, a candidate for the US Congress in Florida, said that “Beyoncé isn't even an African American.” According to him, the singer's real name is Ann Marie Lastrassi, and she was born in Italy.

Truth: The idea that Beyoncé is actually an Italian named Ann Marie Lastrassi has no evidence to support it. Beyoncé was born on September 4, 1981, in Houston, Texas, to black parents, Tina and Mathew Knowles.

According to Snopes, “her ancestry can be traced back to her great-great-great-grandmother, Rosalie Jean Louis, a slave who was born in Louisiana in 1800, and Joseph Lacey, a wealthy white merchant and Louis’ reported slave owner.”

USA

Claim: A 1994 Denver airport mural with children wearing flag masks proves that the pandemic was planned

Facts: A picture of a mural presumably displayed at Denver International Airport was shared widely on Facebook and Twitter this week.

The mural portrays children wearing masks with flags of different countries. The caption describes: “The Denver airport mural painted in 1994. Tell me this is not weird, how far do they plan this stuff in advance?”

Truth: These posts are wrong. The communications office at the Denver International Airport told The Associated Press that the painting was not part of their art collection.The painting is real and it has been drawn in 2020, not in 1994 .

In February 2020, a Filipino artist named Christian Joy Trinidad shared a picture of him next to the painting, as The Associated Press reports. The drawing is called “Maskcommunication.” The work was submitted to a recent international art competition organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations under the name of “United Against Corona-Express through Art.” The creator of the piece of art is not clear: on one version Trinidad signed it, on another one the name “NEHA” appears in the top left corner of the painting, as FactCheck.org reports.

LATIN AMERICA

Claim: A picture showing a green screen instead of a graveyard denounces the fact that coronavirus’ deaths are false

Facts: A picture was widely shared on Facebook. The picture is divided by two, the first image showing people in protective equipment burying victims of Covid-19 in a cemetery. The second one is the same scene but in a film set with a greenscreen and lights. One sentence separates the two pictures: “This is all a lie”, referring to the numbers of Covid-19 infections.

Truth: As AFP Fact Check reports, the picture comes from a CNN footage broadcasted on April 3, 2020 named “Brazil is preparing graves, New York expects the worst and newer from the coronavirus.” The footage shows several shots attributed to Reuters from different angles of the same place, the Vila Formosa cemetery in São Paulo, Brazil, AFP Fact Check describes.

According to AFP Fact Check’s research, the second picture used a Shutterstock photo, a free copyright image platform, uploaded by the user Rashevskyi Viacheslav. The original picture shows a cinema studio with a greenscreen and lights. The picture shared on social media is therefore a collage of a Reuters’ picture showing a cemetery in Brazil and was put on a Shutterstock photo used as a background to claim that Covid-19 victims were not real. According to Worldometers, there were 66,868 deaths because of Covid-19 in Brazil until this day (July 8, 2020).

USA

Claim: An armed protester pointed a gun at the homeowner menacing other protestors with guns in St. Louis

Facts: A picture was shared on social media showing a protestor pointing a gun at Mark McCloskey, 63, and his 61-year-old wife, Patricia who came outside of their house holding guns in St Louis on June 28.

The caption reads: “Take a look… Some say gun… Some say microphone. Looks like a gun at this angel,” misspelling angle.

Truth: As Reuters and The Associated Press reports, the picture has been doctored. The original picture was taken by Lawrence Bryant for Reuters and the captions says: “Patricia McCloskey and her husband Mark McCloskey draw their firearms on protestors, including a man who holds a video camera and microphone, as they enter their neighborhood during a protest against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. June 28, 2020.”

The man holding the camera is Christopher Phillips, a St. Louis based filmmaker who was taking videos of the protests for a documentary, as The Associated Press reports.

To prove that he was not holding a gun at the couple, he tweeted at the makers of his camera and microphone to have a confirmation that there were their products, says The Associated Press.

ITALY/UK

Claim: Australian warships blocked a boat of illegal immigrants

Facts: A picture of a boat trapped between two ships was shared more than 15,000 times on Facebook, as Reuters reports.The caption says: “Two Australian warships blocked a boat loaded with illegal immigrants that did not respond to requests for a halt in their waters.

The illegal immigrants all returned back, the crew members were arrested and the boat was dismantled for scrap. Why can’t the UK do this?”.

Another post on Twitter from an Italian user says: “Don't be alarmed, it's not in Italy, it's in Australia: 2 military ships rammed a cart loaded with illegal immigrants that didn't stop at the alt. The illegal immigrants were all sent back, all the crew members were arrested, and the cart was demolished.”

Truth: The photo was used to praise Australia’s zero tolerance migration policy. Indeed, if Australia has had a very strict migration policy since 2013 by intercepting refugee boats and returning asylum seekers to offshore detention centers, this image is not representative of a case in Australia, as Libération and Reuters reports.

The picture was actually taken in 2012 by a Japanese photographer, Masataka Morita, and published by the Associated Press. It’s not showing a migrant boat but a fishing boat, with Chinese activists on board that were attempting to protest landing on Uotsuri Island, in the East China Sea, under Japanese sovereignty but claimed by China and Taiwan. Therefore, the two other boats are two Japanese coastguards that arrested the Chinese protesters who landed on the islet and hoisted a Chinese flag to claim the island.

Brazil

Claim: People should pour bleach into sewage network to avoid contamination by coronavirus

Fact: Message shared in WhatsApp groups in Brazil recommends that people put “a tablespoon of bleach on every drain of their toilets, basins, bathtubs, showers, dishwashers” to prevent the proliferation of the new coronavirus.

As a justification, the text states: “Dutch authorities have discovered that the virus is growing and multiplying in the wastewater system. They found that even the people who were confined to their homes got the virus and decided to test the water in the wastewater system. They found the Covid-19 virus active in the sewers.”

Truth: In an interview with CBN radio, experts claim that the virus has no ability to infect from the sewage. “All viruses need to be inside a cell to survive and multiply. For this reason, viruses are not able to multiply in water or sewage waste,” says virologist Rômulo Neris, PhD student at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). The pulmonologist Patricia Canto Ribeiro, from the National School of Public Health, in Rio de Janeiro, says that some studies have found the RNA of the virus in sewage, but that “there is no evidence, at least until now, that it is infectious”.

In a statement, the Brazilian Ministry of Health said that "there is no recommendation to use bleach in drains, bathtubs, showers and dishwashers in homes as a way to avoid contagion by coronavirus."

Spain

Claim: Barbie-maker released doll that promotes abortion

Fact: A Facebook post claims that the Barbie-maker releases an edition of the doll for children to “play with abortion.” The post shows an image of a toy box with the inscription “Abortion Barbie.” Inside the box is a doll with a removable belly, a black baby inside, a white baby next to it and life-size scissors.

Truth: Mattel, the US company that produces Barbie, denies that it created or supported the creation of “Abortion Barbie.” The doll, in fact, was created by conservative artist William Sabatini, better known as Sabo, during the 2014 election campaign in the USA.

The image published on social networks omits the inscription "Wendy Davis for Texas State Governor," present in the bottom right-hand corner of the box. Davis was a Texas state senator who ran for governor for the Democratic Party in 2014 and was nicknamed "Barbie Abortion" by some detractors for advocating abortion. Sabo even published a video on his profile on YouTube detailing the process of making the doll.

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