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.

UNITED STATES

Claim: Joe Biden's great-grandfather, Joseph J. Biden, a Confederate soldier owned slaves in the 1800s

Facts: A picture of a man holding a gun was shared on social media in June 2020. The caption reads: “Joe Biden’s family owned African slaves, Joe Biden’s great-grandfather Joseph J. Biden (1828-1880) was a slave owner and fought for the Confederates State of America.”

Truth: 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden’s great-grandfather was not named Joseph J.

Biden but George T. Biden, as Snopes reports.

Moreover, the man portrayed in the picture is a Civil War soldier named Richard Young Bennett who served with Mississippi's second Infantry during the Civil War, as found by “Civil War Photo Sleuth”, a website that unveils soldiers’ identities in old Civil War photographs and was used by Snopes to find out about this man’s identity.

On top of that, Joe Biden’s ancestors were not slave owners because no “Bidens” have been found in the databases examined regarding Civil War soldiers or slave owners, according to Snopes.

IRAN

Claim: A video shows an explosion at a gas storage facility near Tehran on June 26, 2020

Facts: Several news accounts shared a video on Facebook of an explosion.

The caption says the incident happened in Tehran on July 26th at a gas storage facility.

Truth: Two explosions have occurred in the last days in Tehran, one in the neighborhood of Parchin on July 26th, close to a sensitive military site, and one in a medical clinic in North Tehran killing 19 people on July 1st.

However, this video is unrelated to these incidents. As reported by Reuters, the widely shared video was captured by a drone in June 2019. The original video shows an explosion in an oil refinery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

UNITED KINGDOM

Claim: The Mayor of London said the Sharia law is being imposed in London

Facts: Several posts shared on Facebook attributed a quote to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London: “We are trialling shakira [sic] law in three of London’s boroughs right now. We will then roll it out in the remaining thirty next year.”

Truth: The Mayor of London’s press office disclaimed this information. The quote -- which misspells Sharia -- is doctored, as Reuters reports. Sadiq Khan is London’s first Muslim mayor, but he never imposed the Sharia law in his city.

The Sharia law consists of setting an Islamic religious law on public and private life. The concept has been criticized by the West for several principles such as the “stoning of adulterers”, as Reuters describes.

SPAIN

Claim: European Space Agency warned of 'asteroid that could hit Earth in a few hours'

Facts: On June 28th, the Spanish network Antena 3 shared a note saying that "The European Space Agency warns against a gigantic asteroid which could hit the Earth.” Later, on its Twitter account, the Spanish network gave more precisions: “The European Space Agency encountered a guard against a gigantic asteroid which could touch Earth in a few hours. It is the same size as that which destroyed 2000 square kilometers of Siberian forest in 1908.”

Truth: The European Space Agency tweeted on July 27th: “3 days until AsteroidDay!

Number 3 in ESA’s #asteroidrisklist is the biggest in the top 7, coming in at an estimated 40 metres. The asteroid, named 2000 SG344, has a 1 in 1183 chance of impacting Earth, and travels in a very similar orbit.” Antena 3 based its claim on this tweet and misinterpreted it. The ESA never mentioned a “gigantic” asteroid nor has declared that it would touch Earth “within hours”, it only said that it was the “biggest” of the “top 7” asteroids that follow Earth more closely.

BRAZIL

Claim: TV Bandeirantes was bought by the Chinese Communist Party

Facts: An article was widely shared on social media saying that the Chinese Communist Party has bought the Brazilian TV network, TV Bandeirantes.

Truth: The Bandeirantes Group has disclaimed this information and said that a content cooperation agreement has been signed in November 2019, between the Bandeirantes Group and China Media Group, a Chinese state-owned media company.

The agreement aims for a joint production and sharing of content to reinforce the relations between the two countries, as the Brazilian fact checking platform Lupa specifies. TV Bandeirantes was not bought by the Chinese Communist Party, but has a partnership with the Chinese state-owned media company, China Media Group.

CHINA

Claim: China has stopped hospitalizations to cure COVID-19 patients and "kill the virus with heat" through "steam inhalation", "hot gargles" and "hot tea" instead

Facts: Several posts on Facebook and on Twitter have claimed that people infected by COVID-19 in China were not treated in hospitals anymore.

The messages declare that instead of going to the hospital, COVID-19 patients were treated by “killing the virus with heat” through “steam inhalation”, “hot gargles” and “hot tea”, as AFP Fact Check reports.

Truth: This claim is false. As AFP Fact Check reports, Chinese media continue to report on COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the country. China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency declared on June 30th: "Chinese health authority received reports of 19 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Monday, including eight domestically transmitted and 11 imported ones.”

The steam inhalation has not been proven to be a cure against COVID-19. As AFP Fact Check writes: “Experts say the claim about ‘killing’ the novel coronavirus through ‘steam inhalation’; ‘hot gargles’; and by drinking hot tea are without any scientific basis and potentially harmful to human health.”

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