The world of news is complex - and false stories and visuals are often widely shared on social media. Blasting News’s editorial team spots the most popular hoaxes and misleading information every week to help you discern truth from falsehood. Here are some of the most shared claims of this week, of which none are legit.

USA

Claim: COVID-19 vaccines are not made with tissues of aborted human fetuses and are not operating systems engineered to reprogram humans

Facts: In the last few weeks, several posts were flagged by Facebook, claiming that COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal tissues and are operating systems.

Truth: Both claims are false.

  • Some vaccines, such as those protecting against rubella and chicken pox, are in fact produced using cell lines descended from two fetuses aborted in the 1960s, according to a January 2017 article in Science magazine. However, no additional fetal cells are required for vaccine production, and no actual fetal tissue is present in these vaccines.
  • As Reuters reports, “these new vaccines are designed to create an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease COVID-19” but they are not able to change the DNA and so “reprogramming” humans.

USA

Claim: Bill Gates wants to use GMOs in vaccines for children

Facts: A misleading video was shared on social media claiming that Bill Gates would like to inject GMOs substance in children.

“Genetically modified organisms, and we’re injecting them into little kid’s arms, we just shoot them right in the vein,” apparently Gates said in a video.

Truth: The video is false and Gates' speech is doctored. In fact, Gates endorsed GMOs in a 2015 speech in Brussels and, to support his thesis, the philanthropist made an analogy with medicines that like GMOs have trials and checks to ensure they are safe. Gates also added that GMOs promise “to solve nutrition problems, solve productivity problems, solve crop disease problems for African farmers”.

USA

Claim: In February 2021 Coca-Cola launched a new can with the phrase “Try to be less white”

Facts: Several posts shared on social media showed an image with a can of Coca-Cola and the phrase “Try to be less white” on it, over the white logo of the company.

Truth: As Snopes reports this claim is false. A reverse image search shows that the picture is a 2014 stock image archived by Shutterstock.

This week Coca-Cola was accused of forcing its employees to watch a video workshop with a presentation slide that read “Try to be less white.” In reality, as Snopes underlines, “the anti-racism course was real, but it was unlikely Coca-Cola forced its employees to watch it, and the company explicitly denied having done that.”

USA

Claim: Nostradamus predicted that “a feeble man shall rule the Western World with a jezebel”

Facts: A viral image shared hundreds of times on Facebook claims 16th-century French astrologer Nostradamus wrote: “A plague shall fall upon the world.

After, a feeble man shall rule the Western World with a jezebel. The people will be damaged and subjugated by a fool ruler. The great eagle shall suffer and fall.” The post includes a photo of the president of the United States, Joe Biden, and the vice president, Kamala Harris.

Truth: As different fact-check orgs underlined, there is no evidence that Nostradamus wrote the quote shared on Facebook. In Fact, the quote cannot be found in his works.

United Kingdom

Claim: U.K. government has blocked the Office for National Statistics from publishing data about COVID-19 vaccine side effects

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook and Twitter claim that the U.K. government has blocked the Office for National Statistics (ONS) from publishing data on how many people suffered side effects after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

“If everything is as it should be why would our government withhold this crucial information”, questions some of the posts.

Truth: In an email to Reuters, ONS said: “The ONS has been developing plans to monitor the effectiveness of mass vaccination. This is likely to include the analysis of existing data streams and additional survey questions. When we are satisfied with the quality and robustness of our findings, they will be made public in the usual way and in accordance with the UK Code of Practice for Statistics.” Also to Reuters, the Department for Health and Social Care pointed out that regular reports on the vaccines have been published by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

South Korea

Claim: Italian police 'arrested scores of paedophile cardinals' in Vatican

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that an operation carried out by the Italian police "arrested scores of paedophile cardinals" in Vatican City. Some of the posts share an article published on the Korean website UN News that, among other things, states: “The Italian parliament voted overwhelmingly to merge Vatican City into the city of Rome, effectively ending Catholicism’s reign over the city-state”.

Truth: According to AFP, the claim is false. There is no record of any police operation to arrest paedophile cardinals in the Vatican. The same story was published in January 2019 by the satirical website Laughing in Disbelief.

Brazil

Claim: CDC inflated the number of COVID-19 deaths in the US by 1,600%

Facts: Posts shared on social media claim that a study proved that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inflated the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States by 1,600%. According to the study, published in October 2020, data from the CDC show that only 6% of the 161,392 deaths by Covid-19 recorded so far did not mention any comorbidity, which would indicate that only 9,684 deaths were actually caused by COVID-19.

Truth: The study's interpretation is completely refuted by experts and health agencies.

In an interview with ABC, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reinforced the official data from the CDC and said: “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension, or diabetes who dies of covid didn't die of covid-19.”

Ethiopia

Claim: Photo shows Queen Elizabeth II bowing to Ethiopian emperor

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook and Twitter claim to show a black and white photo of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip bowing before the Ethiopian emperor. “Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip bowing before Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife, Empress Menen Asfew. They are the only people they have ever bowed to as a royal couple,” reads the caption of the posts.

Truth: The black and white image shows emperor Haile Selassie I and his wife, empress Menen Asfew, and two people with their backs to the camera bowing before them. These two people, however, are not Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. A reverse image search shows that the photo shared on social media was originally taken in 1955, by the German-American photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. Queen Elizabeth II's first official visit to Ethiopia, however, just happened a decade later, in 1965.

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