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: Former president Barack Obama awarded Jeffrey Epstein the medal of Freedom in 2007

Facts: An article has been widely shared on Facebook claiming “Fact-Check: TRUE – Obama Awarded Epstein the Medal of Freedom in 2007.” The thumbnail picture shows Epstein receiving the presidential medal from the former U.S. President. Epstein pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges on underage girls in 2019. In July 2019, Epstein killed himself in his cell.

Truth: The article comes from a satirical website, FreedomFictions.com, as Reuters reports.

The picture has been photoshopped. Reuters reports that the original picture is one of Obama and Bill Clinton in 2013 when the U.S. president Barack Obama awarded Clinton the medal at the time. Epstein’s face - taken from a picture from 2004, according to Reuters - has been placed on Clinton.

USA

Claim: Celebrities are consuming human meat at the “Cannibal Club”

Facts: A list of celebrities has been shared on social media revealing members of the “Cannibal Club”, in which celebrities consume human meat.

The names mentioned are the singer Katy Perry, the author Chelsea Clinton, the CNN host Anderson Cooper and the actress Meryl Streep.

Truth: According to Reuters, this “Cannibal Club” is a hoax that has already been flagged in 2018 and is resurging lately. As Reuters notes, a reverse image search proves that the “VIP club” is fictitious.

The logo of the venue in reverse search leads to the website for Cannibal Club ( www.cannibalclub.org ), a restaurant offering “specializing in the preparation of human meat,” that brings the “cutting edge of experimental cuisine to the refined palates of L.A.’s cultural elite.” However, as it has been debunked in 2018, by the Indian daily Bangalore Mirror and Reuters, the “staff” picture highlights the fact that this club is a hoax since their “staff” pictures all come from stock image websites.

USA

Claim: Former U.S. vice president Joe Biden said, "Christians violate LGBTQ rights by simply existing"

Facts: A screenshot of a news article was shared on Facebook and claims: “Joe Biden Says Bible Believing Christians Violate LGBTQ Rights By Simply Existing.”

Truth: As Checkyourfacts.org mentions, a reverse image search proves that the screenshot was originally taken from an article from 2015. The article was published on the website Now The End Begins, a “Christian end times news publisher.” The article adds that “According to Joe Biden, the American Bible believing Christian who takes the Bible literally, is violating the ‘rights’ of the LGBT by trusting in God’s word”.

Biden’s presumed quotes are based on his speech made on May 17, 2015, when he talked for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The transcript of his speech proves that the former U.S. vice president mentioned the challenges that the LGBTQ community members face, including “religious condemnation” but did not single out Christianity or “American Bible believing Christians” as a source of that isolation, as Snopes reports. Accordingly, the transcript proves that he never said that “Christians violate LGBTQ rights by simply existing.”

ZIMBABWE/NIGERIA

Claim: Somalia’s president and his deputy had a fight that was filmed

Facts: A video was shared 2,000 times on social media and viewed 150,000 times since August 14, according to AFP Fact Check. It shows a presumed fight between the president of Somalia and his deputy.

Truth: The fight that has been shared on social media does not include the president of Somalia, but the speaker and deputy of the House of Representatives in Somaliland.

The altercation that has been shared happened in 2015, as AFP Fact Check reports. The original video’s caption reads: “Clashes (...) between the speaker and the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives of Somaliland Abdirahman Mohamed Abdillahi (Cirro) and Bashe Mohamed Farah.”

FRANCE

Claim: Germany and England are confining children with suspected coronavirus symptoms without parental consent

Facts: Facebook posts claim that when children are infected with the coronavirus in Germany or England, they are “automatically confined to the quarantine zone, without the need for parental consent and without the obligation to inform where they are.” Some of the posts feature a video, originally published on YouTube, in which a woman claims that Covid-19 is now “a reason” to take children from their families in England and Germany.

“Parents are beginning to worry because they are receiving letters from their children's school informing them that if your child is suspected of having Covid-19, he will be isolated in a quarantine center, without parental permission,” says the youtuber.

Truth: According to AFP Fact Check, this claim is false. In both Germany and England, any action with a child suspected of having coronavirus must be carried out in the presence of a parent, a carer or a legal guardian. In addition to that, in both countries the government's guidance is that quarantine must be carried out, if possible, at home, not in a “quarantine center.”

BRAZIL

Claim: Starting a shower by wetting the head can cause a heart attack

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that starting a shower by wetting the head can cause a heart attack.

“Why do heart attacks occur more often in the bathroom? This was written by a U.S. medical professor in Malaysia, who advises people not to start getting their heads and hair wet when showering, because this is a reverse sequence. (...) The correct way to start a shower is by wetting the feet, the legs (...) this is especially recommended for people who have hypertension, have high cholesterol levels and even suffer from migraine,” reads the caption of the post.

Truth: In an interview with Aos Fatos, Agnaldo Piscopo, cardiologist and member of Socesp (São Paulo Society of Cardiology), says there is no evidence about the relation between the occurrence of a heart attack and the way someone takes a shower.

According to him, cardiac arrests are usually preceded by malaise, nausea and sweating, which leads many of the victims to take a shower in the hope of relieving these symptoms.

PORTUGAL

Claim: Amid the pandemic, parliament has approved help for LGBTI people because they are “more fragile than heterosexuals”

Facts: A post shared on Facebook claims that Portugal’s parliament said that “lesbians and gays are more fragile than heterosexuals and, amid the pandemic, orders them to be helped.” “I feel discriminated for being straight. So, my gay colleague will receive support and I will not, when we both live the same difficulties with the pandemic?,” reads the post.

Truth: According to the Portuguese fact-checking agency Polígrafo, the post refers to Portugal’s parliament resolution n.69/2020, approved on July 10, 2020, and which “recommends to the Government to support associations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, transsexual, transgender and intersex people in the context of the epidemic crisis.” The text, therefore, asks the government to guarantee support to associations that assist the LGBTI community, and not individuals.

SPAIN

Claim: Photo shows Pope Francis kissing the hand of banking tycoon David Rockefeller

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook features an image of Pope Francis kissing the hand of an elderly Jew. The post caption claims that the elderly person is the American banking tycoon David Rockefeller, “first-degree Freemason and lifelong member of the Bilderberg Club,” an institution that seeks “a new world order.”

Truth: According to the fact-checking agency Newtral, the picture was taken in 2014, during a visit by Pope Francis to Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, an official Israeli institution created in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The elderly man whose hand is kissed by the pope in the image is actually a survivor of the Nazi genocide.

NEW ZEALAND

Claim: New Zealand's ruling party has changed the law to "force" citizens to get a coronavirus vaccine

Facts: The opposition of the New Zealand’s ruling party, Advance NZ/New Zealand Public Party published a video on Facebook on August 15. It has been viewed 146 000 times, as AFP Fact Check reports. Its caption reads: “Last week Labour rushed through a law change under urgency to enable them to force our citizens to be vaccinated.” The video shows the New Zealand’s Minister for Housing, Megan Woods, and Nationals MP Erica Stanford sharing information about vaccination during a parliamentary session.

Truth: The video has been edited by the New Zealand opposition party, as AFP Fact Check reports.

A footage of the parliament from August 5 has been used and cut into key parts of specific sentences to share false claims. If it sounds like ruling politicians are talking about a “forced” vaccine on citizens, they were actually arguing on plans to require people entering the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as AFP Fact Check highlights. Erica Stanford replied to this edited video saying: “The New Zealand Public Party video was not at all representative of the exchange I had with Megan Woods and therefore it is dangerous and misleading,” she said to AFP.

“By cutting out part of my comments and questions and using selective responses from the Minister, it looks like we are discussing mandatory vaccinations for Kiwis, which was not the case”, she added.

Moreover, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health precized that compulsory vaccinations would go against the country’s bill of rights.

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