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.


Claim: Multiple mail-in ballots for US President Trump were found thrown away in a ditch in Pennsylvania

Facts: Several tweets have claimed that mail-in ballots, pictured via photo, in favor of Trump were thrown away in Pennsylvania. This rumor insinuates that mail-in ballots are not a safe way to vote for the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Truth: As AFP Fact Check reports, the picture linked to the claim is from 2018 when Trump was not up for re-election.

It was taken in New Jersey, where ballots were dumped by a Postal Service employee who quit and abandoned the mail. However, they were later delivered to the proper recipient, says a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General.


Claim: U.S. President Donald Trump says flu has killed 100,000 people and compares it with Coronavirus to prove that there “is no need to close down the country”

Facts: On October 6, U.S President Donald Trump tweeted: “Flu season is coming up!

Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with COVID, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

Truth: As AP reports, the U.S. death toll from the seasonal flu is between 12,000 and 61,000 annual deaths since 2010, not 100,000.

Moreover, health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told Congress that Coronavirus could be as much as 10 times more lethal than seasonal flu. Coronavirus has already killed 217,056 people in the U.S since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Worldometer COVID-19 Data.


Claim: A new currency called “USN” has been launched by the US Department of the Treasury in September 2020

Facts: Posts on Facebook and online messaging apps shared a video alongside a claim that a new currency called “USN” was launched by the United States Department of the Treasury in September 2020.

According to some of the posts, “the Banknote from the US Federal Reserve US dollar will not be usable from October 2021.”

Truth: According to AFP Fact Check, the claim is false. In an email sent to the agency on October 6, a spokesperson for the US Treasury said: “This claim is false. The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has not launched a new currency.” The video shared in the posts was published on YouTube on May 24, 2018, by designer Andrey Avgust, from Belarus, and shows, according to what the artist himself told AFP, just a “personal vision of how the dollar might look in the future.”


Claim: Photos show Russian-made air defence system destroyed in attack on Armenia

Facts: Two photos shared on Facebook and Twitter claim to show a Russian-made air defence system that was destroyed in an October 2020 attack on Armenia.

“Picture shows DESTROYED Russian Made S-300 Air Defence Systems of Armenia. Turkey made Harop Drones proved very effective against Russian Air Defence Systems,” reads the post’s caption.

Truth: A reverse image search conducted by AFP Fact Check shows that the images were published on a Greek website on December 5, 2016. According to the report, the photos show a Russian-made S-300 Air Defence System that was damaged in an accident at a missile base in southwestern Russia.


Claim: Hong Kong police poster uses slogan coined by Communist China's founding father Mao Zetung

Facts: Photo shared hundreds of times on Twitter claims to show a Hong Kong police billboard that displays the phrase “Serving the People,” a political slogan coined in 1944 by communist leader Mao Zetung, founder of the People's Republic of China.

Some of the posts also display the following message: “These five disgusting characters have started to appear in Hong Kong!”

Truth: In a statement to AFP Fact Check, a spokesperson for Hong Kong Police said the image was digitally manipulated. The original image had the following message on the billboard: “If you want to uphold the rule of law.” The false claim comes amid growing tension between the Beijing government and pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong.


Claim: Bill Gates said Nigeria’s Biafra state could become the world’s second-largest economy within five years of independence and overtake China as a leader in technology.

Facts: A Nigerian pro-Biafra website called Konnect Press, wrote an article saying that founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, claimed that “Biafra nation has the potential to become second in the world best economy”.

The article added that “Biafra nation will liberate Africa from poverty, shame and slavery.” The Nigerian website also says that if Igbos become independent within five years, they “will take over China in terms of technology.”

Truth: AFP Fact Check shared Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s statement which debunks this information: “We can confirm that these statements were not made by Bill Gates,” a spokesperson said by email to AFP Fact Check.


Claim: Three children died from wearing masks in Germany, according to a German doctor

Facts: A German doctor named Dr Bono Schiffmann, known to be against COVID-19 safety measures, claimed in a video: “I know now for certain that a third child has died”.

“Children are dying! Because they are wearing masks against an illness that doesn’t exist”, says Dr Schiffmann.

Truth: As Reuters reports, there is no evidence that three children have died in Germany from wearing masks. According to the World Health Organization, kids under 5 should not be required to wear masks, but that doesn’t mean it is dangerous and could kill them.


Claim: The inventor of the PCR test said that his method was ineffective at detecting viruses

Facts: A claim written in English has been shared on French social media claiming that American biochemist Kary Mullis, the inventor of the PCR COVID diagnostic test declared that the test does not detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The caption shared with the picture reads: “Mass screening (...) is a fraud organized to settle statistics.”

Truth: Mullis died in August 2019, before the emergence of the virus, therefore nothing proves that he disowned his screening method, let alone for the diagnosis of the coronavirus. The quote shared in this post is taken from an article written in 1996 by the activist John Lauritsen. The words have been taken out of context since the text questions the effectiveness of PCR tests in diagnosing AIDS not coronavirus, at a time when the HIV genome was not yet decoded, Le Monde reports.


Claim: Brazilian army seizes illegal timber from the Amazon that would be sold to Europe

Facts: A photo of trucks loaded with timber was shared on Facebook along with the statement that this was an operation carried out by the Brazilian Army in the Amazon region.

The caption that follows the posts reads: “timber from the Amazon that was destined for Europe seized by the army. Now you understand all the fuss.”

Truth: In a reverse image search on the internet, Brazilian fact-check agency Aos Fatos found the same image published on Máfia da Tora page on Facebook – which covers the Brazilian timber market. According to the post, the picture was taken in January 2016, in Cláudia, in the state of Mato Grosso, and the logs shown in the photo for local celebrations.


Claim: People who already got COVID-19 do not need to follow any safety measures

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook say that, according to “independent immunologists,” people who have been infected and recovered from COVID-19 have acquired “natural immunity” for life and therefore do not need to follow any specific health measures, such as social distancing.

“People infected with SARS CoV-2 or COVID-19 who developed IgG antibodies no longer need quarantine, social distance or the use of masks,” reads the caption of the posts.

Truth: According to the fact-checking service of the Peruvian newspaper La República, the claim is false. First, the posts make a mistake when it comes to “acquiring” immunity, since people are born with this type of immunity. The text probably wanted to refer to adaptive immunity, with which the body develops a specific response to a given pathogen. However, research conducted by King’s College London with 90 patients who have recovered from Coronavirus shows that in more than 80% of the cases the antibody levels fell three months after the infection.

Researcher Camille Webb, from the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia, said to La República that, as there are still many doubts regarding the effects of the Coronavirus, it should not be assumed that a person is immune and cannot be infected again.