The world of news is complex - and false stories and images 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 false claims of this week, of which none are legit.

USA

Claim: Texas has launched an operation to finish the Mexico border wall

Facts: Facebook posts claim that Texas launched an operation that aims to finish Donald Trump's controversial Mexico border wall project, after President Joe Biden ordered the construction to be paused. “Texas launched 'Operation Lone Star' to finish the border wall on its own,” reads the caption for the posts.

Truth: Launched on March 6, 2021, Operation Lone Star, which involves the Texas Department of Public Security (DPS) and National Guard forces, aims to deny “Mexican cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas”. Speaking to AFP, Texas Governor Greg Abbott's press office said the operation “does not include wall construction.”

USA

Claim: Boulder shooting suspect was a Syrian refugee who came to the U.S. under Obama-era asylum policies

Facts: Posts shared on Twitter claim that Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, suspected of shooting and killing ten people on March 22 at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, came to the United States as a Syrian refugee through asylum policies under former President Barack Obama.

Truth: According to CNN and The Washington Post, Alissa was born in Syria and emigrated with her family to the United States in 2002. Obama was elected to his first term as President of the United States only in 2008.

World

Claim: Movie “I Am Legend” is set in 2021 and shows people turned into zombies because of a vaccine

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that the movie “I Am Legend”, released in 2007 and starring Will Smith, is set in 2021 and shows a zombie apocalypse generated by a vaccine.

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The rumor comes as movements all over the world try to discredit the Covid-19 vaccines.

Truth: Based on the eponymous Richard Matheson novel published in 1954, the movie is set in 2012. The official trailer released in 2007 says: “In five years, mankind's struggle for survival will be lost.” According to the plot of the film, the apocalypse is generated by an error during a research that tries to find a cure for cancer by re-engineering the measles virus – and therefore has nothing to do with vaccines.

UK

Claim: Bristol police protest was staged

Facts: Posts on Facebook and Instagram claim that the violent protest that took place on March 21 in Bristol, England, against a proposed law that would bolster the authorities’ power to restrict street protests, was staged. As alleged evidence, the posts claim that two police vehicles at the scene were photographed with the same license plate. One of the shared images shows a burnt-out police car with the license plate WX17 FHR, while another shows a police van with the first letters of the license plate WX17 F and the rest covered by the body of a protester.

Truth: Contrary to what the posts claim, the license plates of the two vehicles are not the same.

A video of the demonstration posted on YouTube shows that the complete license plate of the van is WX17 FKY.

Portugal

Claim: There are no more white rhinos on the planet

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that “there are no more white rhinos on the planet.”

Truth: Although the posts does not specify, there are two subspecies of white rhinoceros, the southern and the northern, the latter being the one most at risk of extinction. The last male of the northern white rhinoceros, Sudan, died in 2018, at the age of 45. Currently, there are only two females of the species alive. In order to avoid the northern white rhinoceros from going into extinction, researchers plan to use preserved sperm from Sudan to fertilize the two females that are still alive.

Brazil

Claim: São Paulo state threw out new ventilators to increase COVID-19 deaths and damage the reputation of the federal government

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook claim that the government of São Paulo threw out new ventilators in a vacant lot. According to the posts, the action was intended to raise the death toll from Covid-19 and damage the image of the federal government.

Truth: The ventilators that appear in the images shared on social media are, in fact, part of a stolen cargo that the São Paulo police recovered on March 14. Nine boxes of new ventilators had been stolen on March 12, while they were being transported to Hospital Santa Virginia, on the east side of São Paulo’s capital city.

South Korea

Claim: Photos taken 80 years apart show there has been no rise of the sea level

Facts: A photo collage shared on Facebook claims to show two images of the same seaside place, one labelled as “today” and the other taken 80 years ago. The message that follows the posts claims that the sea level remained the same in this long period between one image and another, which would prove the “climate change hoax.”

Truth: Both images show the easternmost section of the Great Wall of China, in the city of Qinhuangdao. A reverse image search on the internet shows that, contrary to what the posts claim, the black and white image, which would be 80 years old, was actually taken on September 15, 2008 and later published on Flickr. According to data from the Climate.gov, run by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the global mean sea level has risen about 21 to 24 centimetres since 1880.