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: Super Bowl Champions refused invitation to the White House

Facts: After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' victory over Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl LV, U.S. President Joe Biden invited the new champions to the White House. A Facebook post shared over two thousand times reads: “Super Bowl Champions refuse invitation to WH, claim the WH was STOLEN. OK GOOD, SO I'M NOT CRAZY.”

Truth: As Reuters reported, the claim written in the post is similar to the headline of a satirical article published by the website Tater Force One.

The website's About Us section reads: “everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not Fake News because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined.” No reliable news reports saying that the Buccaneers refused the White House’s invitation has been found, Reuters reports.

USA

Claim: The COVID-19 vaccine is an “operating system” designed to program humans and hack their biological functions

Facts: Social media users shared several posts saying that “COVID-19 vaccines are an ‘operating system’ designed to program humans and hack their biological functions.” They also accused Bill Gates of being one of the authors of this alleged plot.

Truth: As Reuters reported, the claim is false. Moderna, one of the companies who developed a COVID-19 vaccine, has compared mRNA science to an "operating system" in a metaphorical way. Moderna in its website explains: “Recognizing the broad potential of mRNA science, we set out to create an mRNA technology platform that functions very much like an operating system on a computer.”

USA

Claim: Image shows U.S.

President Joe Biden asleep in the Oval Office

Facts: An image was shared on social media showing U.S. President Joe Biden asleep in the Oval Office. The caption reads: “America in decline. The decrepit old grifter works 5 hours a day. We traded a work horse, for someone who belonged to the pasture or who was sent to the glue factory a long time ago.

Nothing says we threw in the towel better than this nauseating image, the ‘Commander-in-Chief’ can't even stay awake.”

Truth: The image was doctored, says Reuters. It had Biden's head replaced with a mirrored version of an image from 2011. A reverse image search shows the original image is from a picture of Joe Biden during a speech by President Barack Obama on deficit reduction where he “closed his eyes for an extended period,” CBS said at the time.

USA

Claim: Mask mandates are a direct violation of the Nuremberg Code

Facts: Social media users shared a claim that the mask mandates are a direct violation of the Nuremberg Code. The text is accompanied by a screenshot of article 6, sections 1 and 3 of the Nuremberg Code, and highlights the following sentence: “Leaders should be aware that mandating masks on the citizens of a nation and preventing their access to food, healthcare, transport or education if they don’t comply, is a war crime.”

Truth: The screenshots are not taken from the Nuremberg Code, but from the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights of 2005.

However, both the Nuremberg Code and the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights do not concern the wearing of masks during a pandemic. As Reuters reports, mask mandates do not violate the Nuremberg Code because they are not related to human experimentation or medical research, as the Code prohibits. These are disease prevention measures and are approved by the International Health Regulations, reports Reuters.

France/Italy

Claim: Face masks have been “banned” in schools by the Council of State in Italy

Facts: The French news website France Soir shared an article with the title: “Italy: masks banned at school, judge the Council of State.” The standfirst describes: “Domino effect coming?

President Frattini of Section III of the Italian Council of State has issued a decision condemning the use of masks in schools by minors.”

Truth: The France Soir website shared an excerpt translated into French from a decree adopted by the Council of State. In this case the plaintiffs are the family of a girl from Bolzano, in northern Italy. They applied for the annulment of a government provision extending the mandatory use of face masks in Italian schools to children under the age of 12. The Council of State only ruled in favor of the family of this little girl, who was authorized not to wear a face mask in class because she was in special conditions. However, this does not apply to all children and schools in Italy.

France

Claim: Law provides for a fine of 1,500 euros for wearing a veil in public

Facts: In France, the National Assembly has been studying a “separatism law” since February 1, 2020, to introduce control measures against radical Islamism. A publication, shared nearly 19,000 times on social media, stated that this law will introduce a fine of 1,500 euros for wearing a veil in public.

Truth: The Ministry of the Interior and the Interministerial Committee for the Prevention of Crime and Radicalization (CIPDR) denied this rumor. The Ministry of the Interior official Twitter account posted: “#FakeNews.

NO, the Republican Principles bill will not introduce a fine of € 1,500 for wearing a veil in public spaces, nor its ban. During the examination of the text in a special committee in the National Assembly, amendments were tabled, but they were rejected.”

South Korea

Claim: Video shows teenager suffering from severe side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine

Facts: A video shared on social media claims to show a teenager suffering severe side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The caption of the posts reads: “she is experiencing a convulsion and severe dyspnoea.”

Truth: A reverse image search shows that the video was originally published on March 21, 2015, on YouTube. An article published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on March 20, 2015, states that the teenager in the video was admitted to a hospital in the city of Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan, after being vaccinated for measles.

Brazil

Claim: Facebook admits mistake and says hydroxychloroquine is effective against COVID-19

Facts: Posts shared on social media claim that Facebook admitted it was wrong to take down posts about hydroxychloroquine – a drug that has been used for decades to prevent and treat malaria and certain autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus – and acknowledged the drug's effectiveness against COVID-19.

Some of the posts show a screenshot of an article entitled “Facebook admits that ‘made a mistake’ when censoring hydroxychloroquine.”

Truth: The claim started to be shared on social media after Facebook accepted an indication of its Oversight Board – an independent body created in 2020 to review content moderation decisions –, which suggested that the platform should put back online a post about hydroxychloroquine that had been deleted. The decision, however, was only for a video in French, published in October 2020. Facebook, therefore, did not admit to being wrong in taking down other hydroxychloroquine-related content, nor did it recognize the effectiveness of the drug against COVID-19. Contrary to what the rumor says, a series of studies point to the ineffectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating patients with COVID-19.

Portugal

Claim: COVID-19 antibodies alter the color of breast milk

Facts: An image shared on Facebook shows two bags containing breast milk, one with a normal appearance and the other with a greenish color. The posts claim that the second milk was taken from a mother diagnosed with Covid-19 and that this change “is the result of the antibodies that she started to produce to protect her child from possible infection.”

Truth: In a statement to the fact-checking service of the Portuguese newspaper Observador, the coordinator of Neonatology at Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central (CHULC), Teresa Tomé, says that “there is no basis for associating the Covid-19 infection with a change in the color of milk.”

Spain

Claim: Video shows group of "illegal immigrants" stealing a scooter from a delivery man in the Canary Islands

Facts: Video shared on WhatsApp shows a delivery man having his scooter stolen by a group of muggers.

The messages claim that the scenes took place in the Canary Islands, Spain, and that the thieves were "illegal immigrants".

Truth: Contrary to what messages shared on WhatsApp claim, the video was recorded in the city of Naples, Italy, on January 2, 2020. According to what was reported by the Italian press at the time, the victim of the theft was the delivery man Giovanni Lanciato, 50. On January 4, 2020, six people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the crime – two adults and four teenagers. The nationality of the suspects, however, was not informed.

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