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: Trump’s presidency “passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history”, had the “greatest economy” and “achieved record low unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans"

Facts: On January 20th 2021, during his final speech as president, Donald Trump said: “We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history.” He also added: “We also built the greatest economy in the history of the world.” Regarding the American employment during his presidency, he noted: “We reignited America’s job creation and achieved record-low unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, women — almost everyone.”

Truth: These declarations are false or exaggerated.

Trump’s economy wasn’t the “greatest in American history.” Mr. Trump’s annual average growth was 2,48% before the pandemic. Thus, it was lower than under former President Roland Reagan for whom his annual growth averaged 4.2%, AP reports.

Regarding tax cuts, they are not “the largest in American history.” AP reports that “Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that finance WWII.” About the “record-low unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, women,” this is not exactly true as well.

In 2019, the African American unemployment rate and the Hispanic were “the lowest rates recorded since the US Labor Department started collecting these statistics in the 1970” but it has spiked significantly for both groups due to the impact of the pandemic on the US economy. The low unemployment rates to which Mr. Trump refers to one that existed before the pandemic.

The health crisis has cost the U.S economy 10 million jobs and 2.8 million were lost since Trump was inaugurated. This loss has fallen on Black Americans, Hispanics and women.

USA

Claim: Obama was arrested before Biden’s inauguration

Facts: Gage Nelson, host of the conservative “America Divided Podcast”, said “some video has surfaced of former President Barack Obama in a jail cell and many are asking the question has Barack Obama been arrested." After sharing his claim, he showed the footage of former President Obama in a jail cell.

As Reuters reports, social media users reused the clip and captioned the video: “BARACK OBAMA ARRESTED… 75 days after election day in America and, a NEW video surfaced of former President Barack Obama in a JAIL CELL leaving many to question… Was OBAMA ARRESTED?”. In the video Nelson acknowledges that Obama hasn't been arrested, however the title and caption clearly suggest that the former president was arrested.

Truth: Former President Barack Obama has not been arrested and is not in jail. The video shared online was taken while visiting Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island, in South Africa. The Guardian shared the footage in July 2013. At the same time, in 2013, the official White House YouTube channel also shared clips of this tribute to Mandela who died on December 5th, 2013 of a lung infection.

USA

Claim: Video shows military aircraft flying into Washington D.C. for Biden’s inauguration

Facts: Several videos have been shared online showing military planes that are supposed to arrive in Washington DC to prepare for Joe Biden's presidential nomination on January 20th, 2021.

Truth: This video was posted online before January 15th and January 16th, when it is supposed to take place. A TikTok user called @jaymb1719 posted it on January 7th, 2021 and shared similar clips showing the same scene on April 27th, 2020.

FRANCE

Claim: Brigitte Macron went to the bedside of sick children "without a mask and without any social distancing"

Facts: Since January 17th, posts shared several thousand times on social media accuse France's first lady Brigitte Macron of going to the bedside of sick children "without a mask and without any social distancing."

Truth: The photos shared with the text to prove the claim date from January 8th, 2020, before China announced the first official death from Covid-19.

KOREA/ USA

Claim: There will be an imminent two-week national quarantine, business closures and the mobilisation of troops across the USA after Biden’s inauguration

Facts: Claims have been shared on South-Korean and American social media saying: “Urgent news! The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to mobilise the National Guard, preparing to dispatch them across the US along with the military.” “Within the next couple of days, the President will invoke the Stafford Act, and all Americans will be quarantined at home for two weeks. All businesses will be closed for two weeks as well,” the Korean post added.

The claim is supported by a letter said to be written by the U.S. National Guard.

Truth: National Guard divisions in Kansas, Pennsylvania, Utah and various other U.S. states confirmed that the letter was fake.

Hong Kong

Claim: Video shows Apple electric car being charged

Facts: Video shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo claims to show a prototype of an electric car developed by Apple.

The images show the vehicle charging its batteries using a giant cable, similar to that used in devices such as iPhone and iPad.

Truth: A reverse image search on Google shows that the video shared on social media was originally published on January 4, 2021, on Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok), by special effects artist Ou-mi. The title of the original post is: “Is this how Apple electric cars are charged?” In a statement to AFP Fact Check, Ou-mi said: “It's me who played around in that video, and the special effect was created by my team. We just found a random car, and added the Apple logo onto it.”

Indonesia

Claim: Videos show last moments of Sriwijaya Air flight that crashed in Indonesia

Facts: Two videos shared thousands of times on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok claim to show the last moments of Sriwijaya Air flight 182, which crashed into the Java Sea on January 9, 2021, with 62 people on board, minutes after taking off from the Jakarta airport.

Truth: A reverse image search on Google shows that both videos were not recorded by passengers on Sriwijaya Air flight 182. One of the recordings shows passengers on an Indian low-cost airline IndiGo flight that was hit by a major turbulence in July 2020. The other video shows passengers on board of a Bulgarian ALK Airlines flight which experienced severe turbulence in June 2019.

Brazil

Claim: WhatsApp can access user’s photos and personal messages

Facts: Post shared on Facebook and WhatsApp groups claims: “Remember, tomorrow begins the new Whatsapp rule that allows them to use your photos! Remember that the deadline is today! It can be used in lawsuits against you. Everything you posted can be published starting today, even deleted messages.”

Truth: In a statement to the Brazilian fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, WhatsApp said: “Personal conversations are protected with end-to-end encryption, which means that these conversations are private, and that WhatsApp cannot read, hear or see the content of the shared images.”

Colombia

Claim: Pope Francis was arrested for child pornography and fraud

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that Pope Francis was arrested in the Vatican, accused of a series of crimes, such as child trafficking and fraud.

Truth: The claim was shared on Facebook after being published by the website Prevencia, which in turn translated the information from the Canadian website Conservative Beaver, which on January 10, 2021, published an article claiming that Pope Francis was arrested on January 9, 2021, accused of a series of crimes, including “possession of child pornography, human trafficking, incest, possession of drug paraphernalia and fraud.” According to AFP, Conservative Beaver is famous for publishing Fake News and has had a number of other articles debunked. Apart from that, contrary to what the Canadian article indicated, the pontiff made public appearances that Saturday and the following days.

Portugal

Claim: Portugal is the poorest country in Europe

Facts: Post shared on Facebook claims that Portugal is the poorest country in Europe.

“Marcelo is the president of the poorest country in Europe, but he has no shame. And he says that it is now with alms from Europe that the Portuguese have to count on. But he says he has to keep this miserable government until the end,” reads the post.

Truth: According to 2019 data from the European statistics agency Eurostat, Portugal has the 16th best GDP per capita in the bloc – 18,598 euros –, ahead of Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. Taking into account the Human Development Index (HDI), Portugal ranks 28th among the 43 countries that make up the European continent.

Argentina / Spain

Claim: Argentine Army nurse died after receiving Sputnik V vaccine

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that the Argentine Army nurse María Daniela Domínguez, 24, died in the city of Zapala, in the Neuquén province, after receiving the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V.

“The vaccine kills. Spread urgently. The official media hides this,” reads part of the messages.

Truth: The information shared on social media was denied by both the Argentine health authorities and the country's army. María Daniela Domínguez died on January 1, 2021, at Zapala Hospital, due to heart failure as a result of pulmonary thromboembolism. The nurse had not received any vaccine against Covid-19.

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