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: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's walking boot hides a GPS ankle bracelet that monitors people under arrest

Facts: Many posts on Twitter share messages saying that U.S President-elect Joe Biden would be under arrest. His medical walking boot would not be for his fracture in his right foot but to hide a GPS ankle bracelet used to monitor people under arrest.

Truth: Biden’s doctor has confirmed the foot fracture in a public statement and said that the U.S President-elect had to wear a walking boot in order to recover.

As Snopes says, “No evidence exists that Biden’s orthopedic boot is anything other than that, and claims otherwise are part of a baseless conspiracy theory.”

USA

Claim: A school bus full of voting machines was found in Buckeye, Arizona

Facts: Photographs of a school bus have been widely shared on social media saying that it was found by the local police and contained voting machines. It points at “voter fraud” claiming that the abandoned bus was found on December 4th, but that the event hasn’t been reported by news organizations.

Truth: As Reuters reports, the local police, Buckeye Arizona Police Department, responded to the claims on their Facebook page: “Both the Buckeye Police Department and an investigator from the Attorney General’s office responded to this ‘suspicious bus’. It was determined the bus was full of office equipment purchased at a surplus sale, complete with invoices and receipts.

The information in the original post is inaccurate. Thank you, as always, for your support.”

PHILIPPINES

Claim: Pope Francis announced that people must receive the Covid-19 vaccine in order to enter heaven

Facts: A screenshot of a news article has been shared on social media, the headline reads: “Pope Francis Says Covid Vaccine Will Now Be Required To Enter Heaven.” Social media users have shared the post by replying in English and Tagalog-language with comments such as: “The devil in human form.

How can Catholics believe this lying serpent? Does he think Catholics are STUPID or don't have BRAINS?” or even “Let’s inject him first. Wait a week then see what happens to this idiot,” AFP reports.

Truth: The screenshot of the news article was taken from a satirical website called The Babylon Bee, which describes itself as a “Trusted Source For Christian News Satire,” AFP reports.

CHINA/USA

Claim: Joe Biden switched his surgical boot from his right leg to his left, letting people think that he is faking his injury

Facts: China social media posts have been shared showing a collage of two pictures: one of U.S President-elect Joe Biden wearing a grey medical boot on his left foot and another one in which he is wearing his boot on his right foot.

The caption translated from Chinese into English reads: “Left foot one moment, and right foot the next! / Someone is too mentally impaired to remember which one of his own feet has been injured!” The post was then shared by the American Facebook page, Delaware Humane Association (DHA), a private nonprofit care and adoption center.

Biden suffers from a fracture from his right foot due to an incident with his dog Major which happened on November 28th.

Truth: As AFP reports, the picture has been doctored. The picture on the right is from 2020 and shows Biden’s current boot but the left picture is from 2018 and the medical boot as well as the mask have been added to the original picture, Reuters and AFP report.

SINGAPORE

Claim: A Singapore cemetery has a sign warning of "ghosts"

Facts: A photo has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook and Reddit showing a sign warning of “ghosts” at a Singaporean cemetery, AFP reports.

Truth: The picture has been doctored. The Singapore’s National Environment Agency official Facebook account shared a post after reading about this claim saying: “We are aware that a photo of a signage presumably taken at a closed cemetery, with a 'beware of ghost' icon, is circulating on social media. The photo is doctored, and here is how the original signage actually looks.”

United Kingdom/Brazil

Claim: Covid-19 vaccine may cause infertility in women

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that Covid-19 vaccines can cause infertility in women and call for “immediate suspension of all studies of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, in particular the BioNtech/Pfizer study on BNT162b.” According to the rumor, the claim was allegedly made by German doctor and politician Wolfgang Wodarg and by former Pfizer chief of respiratory research Michael Yeadon.

“The vaccine contains a spike protein called syncytine-1, which is vital for the formation of the human placenta in women. If the vaccine works to form an immune response AGAINST the spike protein, we will also be training the female body to attack syncytine-1, which can lead to infertility in women for an unspecified period,” reads part of the shared text.

Truth: In an interview with the fact-checking service of Brazilian radio CBN, infectious disease specialist Renato Kfouri, president of the Immunizations Department of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics, states that “the spike protein is specific to the coronavirus, and there is no similarity between this protein sequence and human proteins, placental proteins, and developmental cells during pregnancy.

It is a big nonsense that is being disseminated.” In a statement, Pfizer also rejects the rumor.

China

Claim: Photo shows US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with a marijuana cigarette

Facts: Image shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, and WeChat allegedly shows US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding a lit marijuana cigarette. The caption of the posts states that the image was taken during a speech in which Kamala confessed to the public “being addicted” and “promised to legalize drug trafficking in the United States.”

Truth: The image shared in the posts was digitally manipulated from a photo taken by photographer Damian Dovarganes, of the Associated Press, on January 30, 2015, during a lecture by Kamala at the University of California (UCLA) in Los Angeles.

In the original image there is no cigarette in the Democrat's hand. According to AFP Fact Check, Kamala made no mention of drugs during his speech at the time, talking only about human trafficking.

Portugal

Claim: Wuhan Institute of Virology belongs to British pharmaceutical company that owns Pfizer

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that the Wuhan Institute of Virology belongs to the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who in turn owns Pfizer. “The Chinese biological laboratory in Wuhan is owned by Glaxo! Who in turn owns Pfizer! (the one who produces the vaccine!),” reads part of the claim.

Truth: Contrary to what the posts claim, the Wuhan Institute of Virology belongs to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who in turn belongs to the Chinese government. As for Pfizer, CNN Business points out that GSK is not among the shareholders of the American pharmaceutical company.

Spain

Claim: UK prepares for a wave of deaths from the Covid-19 vaccine

Facts: Posts on Facebook and Twitter shared an article published by the website Escenario Final that states that the United Kingdom has purchased a software to manage data on a possible wave of deaths caused by vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

Truth: According to the Spanish fact-checking agency Newtral, UK’s Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recently paid the British firm Genpact to develop an artificial intelligence software tool to help process data about “adverse drug reactions [ADRs]” caused by Covid-19 vaccines, and not deaths.

In a statement to Newtral, MHRA said that the published clinical tests do not indicate “any specific safety problems” related to these vaccines and that they expect their safety to be “similar to other vaccines.”

Latin America

Claim: Keanu Reeves claims Hollywood elites use blood of babies to get high

Facts: An article published in a blog called Enigma Planetario and shared more than 140 thousand times on Facebook claims that Canadian actor Keanu Reeves made a supposed confession about the consumption of baby blood as a drug by the Hollywood elite. “Children are revered, they are put on pedestals, but they are also tortured, raped, murdered, and consumed in various ways.

They are currency,” the actor reportedly said at an event in Milan, Italy.

Truth: According to information from the Colombian fact-checking agency Colombiacheck,

the claim is false and was based on an article published on YourNewsWire.com, known for spreading Fake News. The rumor has been circulating on the internet since 2017 and has already been debunked by sites like Mashable and Media Matter For America.

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