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: NASA warned there will be no sun for six days

Facts: An article originally posted on the Daily Buzz Live platform was shared on Facebook. The headline reads: "ALERT: NASA Confirms Earth to Go Dark for 6 Days in December 2020." The article also shares a video from NASA Director Charles Bolden delivering "a speech on emergency preparedness."

Truth: The story is false and has been shared since 2012. NASA has previously responded to this claim, saying, "Neither NASA nor any other scientific organization predicts such an outage ..." About the message from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a NASA spokesperson said: “This is just a message encouraging people to prepare for emergencies, recorded as part of a larger campaign government readiness.

He never mentions a power failure.”

USA

Claim: Margaret Keenan, 90, UK's first COVID-19 vaccine recipient, died in 2008

Facts: Keenan, the first woman to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Coventry, UK, is accused of being an Illuminati-linked "crisis actor", AFP reports.

This claim is supported by a comment widely shared on social media: “I’ve been digging on that woman that is meant to have taken the first vaccine today...she died in 2008 she’s on the Funeral Notices.co.uk.”

Truth: In 2008, Funeral Notices.co.uk registered the name of a woman called Margaret Keenan. The woman died in 2006 and her name is on this site because there was a tribute note for her published on the website in 2008.

However, she is not the same Margaret Keenan who was the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the tribute note that appears on the site says it was written by his "devoted Ailish children, Julien Maggie." However, the first woman to be vaccinated on December 8 has a daughter named Sue.

USA

Claim: CNN reported that President Donald Trump “will likely get his second term”

Facts: An article from The Black Sphere, a news site known for spreading Fake News, was shared widely on social media a few days before the Electoral College's vote for President and Vice President of the United States.

The headline reads: “CNN ACKNOWLEDGES that Trump likely will get his Second Term.” In support of its claim, the article shared the words of CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria: “President Trump's inevitable outcome. A second term."

Truth: Zakaria's words were taken out of context and misused. Five weeks before Election Day, the CNN reporter shared a storyline of how Trump could theoretically stay in power if he wins the popular vote in states that collectively represent 270 constituency votes, as reported by Reuters. So he would “lose but still win,” said Zakaria.

WORLD

Claim: A photo shows the family of Turkish-German scientist Ugur Sahin. It supposedly shows the man who developed the Covid-19 vaccine marketed by Pfizer, as a kid.

Facts: One image was shared widely in Italian, French, Bosnian, Urdu, and Arabic.

The caption for the family photo reads: “This is an immigrant family, newly arrived in Germany. The boy in the yellow shirt will go on to invent the COVID vaccine.”

Truth: BioNTech’s director of external communications, Jasmina Alatovic, debunked the information saying that “this is not a photo of Mr Sahin and his family.”

UK

Claim: Prince Harry admits Meghan Markle 'may not be the right one'

Facts: A fashion news website called TheFashionBall shared an article with the headline: “Harry admits Meghan Markle may not be 'the right one'.” Ads spotted on the web share the link to this article.

Truth: As Snopes reports, the article does not use reliable sources to prove its claim. Additionally, it never talks about how Prince Harry thought Meghan Markle 'may not be the right one' in the body of the article, no mention of what was promoted in the headline follows in the article. As Snopes describes, this is an "advertisement about the British Royal Family."

ITALY

Claim: Covid-19 pandemic “started in a Chinese laboratory”

Facts: On December 16, 2020, during a debate in the Italian Senate over restrictions on the movement of people in the country during the Christmas season, the leader of the far-right party La Lega, Matteo Salvini, said that the Covid-19 pandemic “started in a Chinese laboratory.” In his speech, Salvini also attacked the WHO (World Health Organization), deeming it “absent or complicit.”

Truth: Salvini's claim about the origin of the new coronavirus is false.

According to a study published in March, 2020, on Nature Medicine, analysis of the genetic data clearly shows that Sars-CoV-2 originated through natural processes. In May, 2020, WHO also declared that the novel coronavirus originated naturally.

BRAZIL

Claim: Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine can cause “cancer and suicidal thoughts”

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook and WhatsApp groups claim that CoronaVac, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, causes “10 types of cancer and suicidal thoughts.”

Truth: According to information from the fact-checking agency Lupa, the Butantan Institute,

who develops the vaccine in Brazil in partnership with Sinovac, said in a statement that the claim is “totally untrue” and that during the tests there was no case in which the immunizer caused the development of cancer or caused “suicidal thoughts” in the participants.

LATIN AMERICA/PORTUGAL

Claim: Images of the first woman to receive Covid-19 vaccine in the UK were taken two months before they were released to the public

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook and WhatsApp groups claim that “the first woman to receive the corona vaccine yesterday (December 8, 2020) was also filmed receiving an injection on October 22, 2020. Same clothes, same nurse, same room, same chair and same camera angle.” To support the claim, the post is followed by a screenshot of an article published on the CNN website on October 22, 2020, which shows a video with images of Margaret Keenan, 90, the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, on December 8, 2020.

Truth: The same claim has been analyzed by several fact-checking agencies, in different countries, who came to the conclusion that the information is false.

Firstly, the article in the screenshot, “Faulty US Covid-19 response meant 130,000 to 210,000 avoidable deaths, report finds,” is not directly related to Keenan's vaccination. Other than that, the confusion is due to the fact that the video player inside CNN's website articles is constantly updated, which allows old articles to show new videos. Although it appeared in the October 22 article, Keenan's vaccination video was only published on December 8, as can be verified on CNN's website.

SPAIN

Claim: Muslim association calls for removal of Christmas decoration in Malaga for containing religious symbols

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that a Muslim association has asked the Malaga city hall in Spain to remove the Christmas decoration on Calle Larios, a famous commercial street in the city, for containing religious symbols.

“The Muslim association of Malaga denounces, and the mayor replies that when he goes to their countries, he does not ask them to remove their religious symbols,” reads part of the post’s caption.

Truth: In a statement to the Spanish fact-checking agency Maldita, the Malaga city hall says that “there have been no complaints from a Muslim association.” Maldita also informs that the photo that follows the post shows the Christmas decoration used on Calle Larios in 2017 and 2018.

SPAIN

Claim: Photo shows pigeons dead on the ground after standing near 5G antenna in Barcelona

Facts: Facebook posts shared an image of several dead pigeons on the floor of a square in Barcelona along with the claim that the deaths were due to the fact that the animals were close to a 5G antenna.

Truth: According to the Spanish fact-checking agency Newtral, the city of Barcelona stated that the image was taken on March 26, 2020, when 70 pigeons were found dead in the gardens of Mercado de Ninot. After an investigation of the case, “toxicological reports confirmed the presence (in the samples analyzed) of highly toxic insecticides in high concentrations (commonly used for poisoning wild fauna), which leads to the conclusion that the deaths were due to poisoning by ingesting these insecticides,” said the Catalan city hall.

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