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: Fox News screenshot says 400,000 Americans died within 9 hours of Biden's presidency

Facts: A Fox News screenshot was shared on social media: "Joe Biden has been president for nine hours and 400,000 Americans have died."

Truth: In the upper right corner of the screenshot, we can see the watermark “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” which is the name of the account that also shared the screenshot in the first place. "The Daily Show" describes itself as a Twitter satirical page which shares news reported by "Trevor Noah and The World's Fakest News Team." Therefore, this news is false and the screenshot is changed.

USA

Claim: Former US President Donald Trump has launched a new US political party called the “Patriot Party”

Facts: The Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump launched the idea of ​​forming a new American political party called the “Patriot Party”. Following the announcement, Trump supporters began promoting the “Party” on social media by setting up an official page and starting to sell goodies such as "The Patriot Party" t-shirts.

One supporter even went to file documents with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) asking for financial support to help the party take off.

Truth: After this FEC-related announcement, Trump's official campaign shared a statement saying there was “confusion among the public, which may be mislead to believe that Patriot Party’s activities have been authorized by Mr Trump or DJTFP — or that contributions to this unauthorized committee are being made to DJTFP — when that is not true.”

USA

Claim: Following the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, Internet users noticed that he had a "Chinese bodyguard", which proves that he "works for China"

Facts: During the Inauguration Day, Internet observers began sharing footage of a man in charge of the Presidential Protection Team.

The latter has been described as "Chinese" and Internet users believe he is part of the Chinese Communist Party. Thus, accusations that Biden "works for China" were shared.

Truth: The man shown in the posts is David Cho, a Korean-American citizen and a decorated and long-time member of the United States Secret Service. He served under the Trump administration, Reuters reports.

USA

Claim: Facebook logged out users to install a tracking device on their phones

Facts: A post has been shared 1,500 times since January 23th and shares another Facebook user that shows a “Tracking” tab on a screenshot from an Apple iPhone’s privacy settings. The caption reads: “Those of you who was logged out of facebook this morning… check your phones, because it appears a new tracking device for the app has been put on our phones.”

Truth: The “Tracking” feature on Apple devices is part of Apple's iOS 14 released in 2020. It aims to give Apple users greater control over their own data and privacy. To use this "tracking" feature, users must explicitly allow downloaded applications to use their data, Reuters reports.

Italy

Claim: Comparison between Trump and Biden’s inaugurations shows that US election was stolen

Facts: Posts shared on social media compare two images, one of Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017 and another of Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021.

According to the posts, the fact that the image of Trump's inauguration shows a crowd of supporters and that of Biden shows only a few people would be proof that the Republican has far more popular support than the Democrat and that, therefore, the 2020 US elections were stolen.

Truth: First, the two images reproduced in the posts are true. However, it should be noted that Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017, did not take place during a pandemic, as was the case with Biden's inauguration last week. Amid efforts to curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus, Joe Biden's ceremony was attended only by official guests. Supporters of the Democrat, in turn, were invited by the authorities to follow the ceremony from home, through the media.

UK

Claim: Face masks and vaccination worsened mortality for COVID-19 patients in UK

Facts: Some social media users have questioned the effectiveness of the masks as well as the vaccine. A graph has been shared online showing the number of deaths in the UK during the pandemic. It shows that since October, deaths have increased in the UK despite two lockdowns, mandatory masks and the start of vaccine rollout. Comments like, "WHY are we here, if the lockdowns work, if the masks work, if social distancing works, if the new vaccine works?" "Something clearly isn't working. The biggest common denominators are the constant use of masks and the vaccine,” describe Internet users.

Truth: As Reuters reports, there is no proven link between the increase in deaths since October and the use of masks as well as the deployment of the vaccine.

Scientific evidence shared by the WHO has proven that masks are an effective way to fight the virus. For vaccination, people who receive the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will need two doses before they achieve maximum protection against COVID-19. So far, more than six million people have received the first dose in the UK, but 400,000 have received two doses. So, as Reuters writes, it is “too early for the impact of vaccination to be felt”. On top of that, the new variant of the coronavirus that has affected the UK should be factored into the increase in deaths. It is at least 70% more transmissible and could be more deadly according to some scientists.

France

Claim: A pharmacist takes an antigen test with Coca-Cola and gets a positive result

Facts: A video of a pharmacist performing an antigen test has been viewed over 300,000 times and was shared over 40,000 times on the Internet.

In the video, the man puts a few drops of Coca-Cola on a AAZ test that tells people if they are infected with the coronavirus. A few minutes later, he says the test is positive.

Truth: In a statement published Tuesday, January 26, the French manufacturer AAZ behind this antigen test reacted to the video by saying that there is "obviously no Covid-19 virus in this soda". He explains that the man has "misused" the antigen test by creating "a chemical reaction" of the test and not an "immunological reaction". The statement adds that “The test must be used with an extraction reagent [which is not the case in the video], which is provided in the kit and which is essential. It has a crucial role as it balances the pH of the reaction, which guarantees the performance of the test.

"

Additionally, the man in the video told AFP: "We were messing around with friends." "I saw that there are conspiratorial ideas that took over my video, things that I fight and now I am their standard bearer, it is horrible, I am completely overwhelmed," he said.

South Africa

Claim: Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is owned by the “richest Chinese man”

Facts: A Facebook account in the name of South African politician Vytjie Mentor shared a claim saying that “AstraZeneca is owned by a RICHEST CHINESE that stays in HONG KONG and has TIES to the CHINESE GOVERNMENT.” The post has been shared hundreds of times according to AFP.

Truth: AFP reports that the Facebook account has not been verified and is known to share unproven and false information on COVID-19. Additionally, the European Pharmaceutical Journal describes AstraZeneca as an "Anglo-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company". The site also states that its headquarters are based in Cambridge, UK. Its managing director is not the “richest Chinese man” but a Frenchman named Pascal Soriot, AFP reports.

Hong Kong

Claim: Biden received an official letter from Trump saying “you know I won”

Facts: Image shared on Facebook claims to show a letter sent by Donald Trump to Joe Biden on January 20, 2020, on the occasion of the Democrat’s inauguration. In the document, which displays the Seal of the President of the United States, there is only the phrase “Joe, you know I won”.

Truth: A forensic analysis of the image carried out by AFP Fact Check, using the InVID-WeVerify tool, shows that the letter was digitally manipulated. AFP also highlights the fact that the seal in the letter shared on social media is different from that used by the White House in its official communications. Besides that, the same letter template has already been used in other rumors linked to the former US president. Trump did indeed leave a letter for his successor, but the content of the document has not been revealed.

Indonesia

Claim: Video shows people fainting after receiving Covid-19 vaccine

Facts: A video shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok claims to show people fainting in Indonesia after getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

Truth: A reverse image search on the internet shows that the shared images were originally published on February 11, 2018, and show students getting sick after receiving diphtheria vaccines in schools on the Indonesian island of Madura.

Thailand

Claim: NASA announced the possibility of the sun rising in the west

Facts: Posts shared thousands of times on Facebook claim that NASA has announced the possibility of the sun rising in the west. “NASA confirms the possibility of the sun rising from the west. The earth is spinning in the opposite direction which causes the sun to rise from the west side. Researchers believe that we are moving towards the reverse of the magnetic field which will lead us to the end of humanity and the approaching of doomsday,” reads the caption of the posts.

Truth: In a statement to AFP, NASA said: “Neither NASA or any other scientific organisation is predicting the sun will rise in the west. Magnetic pole reversal is a real phenomenon that has happened many times in the past, and scientists worldwide study it, but a reversal leading to the Earth spinning in the opposite direction to cause the Sun to rise in the west is false.”

Brazil

Claim: Lula is elected by Transparency International as the most corrupt leader in history

Facts: Article published on the website Veja Oeste and later shared on social media claims that former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected the most corrupt leader in history in a ranking by the NGO Transparency International.

Truth: According to the Brazilian fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, there is no ranking on the Transparency International website that points Lula as the most corrupt leader in history.

In the posts circulating on the internet, the name of the former Brazilian president was inserted in a Transparency International report entitled “Global Corruption Report 2004”.

Portugal

Claim: Europeans “forced to work until age 70”

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that “Europeans are forced to work until the age of 70 so that the state can continue to sustain cultures averse to work.”

Truth: Contrary to what the posts claim, in most countries of the European Union, retirement at the age of 65 has been the norm until recent years, according to information from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound). For the coming years, due to the increase in the population’s life expectancy, some countries plan to raise the state pension age, such as Ireland (68 years by 2028) and Germany (67 years by 2031).

No country in Europe, however, establishes or has plans today to establish 70 years as the minimum age to retire.

Spain

Claim: Immigrants are part of priority groups in Covid-19 vaccination program

Facts: Posts shared on TikTok and Twitter claim that immigrants and refugees were placed in a priority group to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Spain. The posts include an infographic with a supposed vaccination plan from the Spanish Ministry of Health divided into eight groups. In the image, immigrants and refugees are part of group five, ahead, for example, of essential workers (such as transport and education) and people over 55.

Truth: According to information from the Spanish fact-checking agency Maldita, the infographic is part of a study published in November 2020 by the independent platform of scientists GCMSC (Multidisciplinary Collaborative Group for Scientific Monitoring of Covid-19) and has nothing to do with the Spanish government or the vaccination program in place in the country.

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