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

Used in plant-based alternatives to meat, canola oil is not toxic

Facts: Posts shared on Instagram claim that canola oil, an ingredient widely used in plant-based alternatives to meat, is toxic.

Truth: According to Guy Crosby, Adjunct Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, commercially processed canola oil “is a safe and healthy form of fat that will reduce blood LDL cholesterol levels and heart disease risk compared to carbohydrates or saturated fats such as found in beef tallow or butter.” Canola oil is also recognized as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

USA

Aztecs did not sacrifice their leaders to counter pandemics

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook and Instagram claim that the Aztecs used to sacrifice their own leaders in times of pandemic or famine.

Truth: Experts consulted by Reuters say that the Aztecs in fact conducted sacrifices during periods of famine or extreme natural events, such as droughts. According to Diana Moreiras, a researcher of the Department of Anthropology at The University of British Columbia, however, historical evidence shows that the victims were generally slaves and war-spoil, and never their own leaders.

United Kingdom

British Home Secretary Priti Patel didn’t spend 77,000 pounds of taxpayer money on her eyebrows

Facts: Posts shared on Twitter claim that British Home Secretary Priti Patel spent more than 77,000 pounds ($107,000) of taxpayer money on her eyebrows.

Truth: The claim was first published on Twitter by a human rights activist, based on a 2020 Home Office expense report.

The document shows that £77,269.40 was spent at a company called SP Beautiful Brows, run by Global Beauty Products. In a statement to Reuters, however, the Home Office says that the amount was used to buy hand sanitizer and PPE to the department during the pandemic.

Spain

Abortions did not increase by 483% among women who were vaccinated against COVID-19 in the U.S.

Facts: Posts shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram claim that there was a 483% increase in the number of abortion cases among women who were vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States.

Truth: The rumors stem from an article published on The Daily Exposure website. The article, however, says that the referred increase in the number of abortion cases happened in the United Kingdom, and not in the USA. Mistakenly, the text takes into account in its calculation a report of suspected side effects of vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Speaking to the Spanish fact-checking agency Maldita, U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) states that “there is no data that suggests a high risk of miscarriage related to exposure to vaccines against COVID-19 during pregnancy.”

Brazil

Brazilian Federal Police director didn’t tweet that Supreme Court and former President Lula planned to kill Bolsonaro

Facts: Social network users shared a series of alleged tweets by Paulo Maiurino, director general of the Brazilian Federal Police, in which he states that members of the Supreme Court and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were planning to kill President Jair Bolsonaro.

Truth: The Federal Police informed in a statement that the tweets shared on social media came from a fake account. According to the Federal Police, Paulo Maiurino’s official profile on Twitter is @PMaiurino, whilst the account that posted the rumor is @d_delegado.

Hong Kong

Photo doesn’t show nuclear waste pollution from Fukushima in 2021

Facts: After the Japanese government announced on April 13, 2021, that it will release more than a million tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, Facebook and Twitter posts shared a satellite image that allegedly shows the impact of the nuclear waste pollution

Truth: A reverse image search on the internet shows that the shared image was originally published by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shortly after the massive earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.

At the time, the earthquake caused a tsunami that hit the Fukushima plant, causing one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history. The NOAA image shows precisely the impact of that tsunami on the Pacific region.

Japan's announcement this month drew strong criticism from neighboring countries, including China and South Korea. The Japanese government, however, argues that the release is safe and that the water will be treated to remove all radioactive elements.

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