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: COVID-19 originated in a market 400 meters from a Chinese lab studying coronaviruses

Facts: Posts shared on Twitter claim that the first cases of the novel Coronavirus were recorded at a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan just 400 meters away from a Chinese Communist Party laboratory studying coronaviruses derived from bats. The claim was also shared by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

Truth: Contrary to what the posts claim, the Wuhan Institute of Virology is located about 27 kilometers from the seafood market where the first cases of Covid-19 were recorded.

USA

Claim: Google Earth blocked people from seeing the Suez Canal

Facts: Amid the incident with the container ship Ever Given, which was stranded for almost a week in the Suez Canal, being freed last Monday (29), Facebook users claim that Google Earth blocked people from seeing parts of the canal.

The posts shared screenshots that show a clear distinction between stretches of the canal, some with a clear blue water and others with an almost black hue.

Truth: Contrary to what the posts suggest, the images provided by Google Earth are not updated in real time. “The mosaic of satellite and aerial photographs you can see in Google Maps and Google Earth is sourced from many different providers, including state agencies, geological survey organizations and commercial imagery providers,” said Matt Manolides, a satellite imagery expert at Google, in a company blog post.

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According to Manolides, “these images are taken on different dates and under different lighting and weather conditions,” which explains the inconsistency in the color of the canal water in the images.

Brazil

Claim: 30% of people vaccinated against COVID-19 will die within three months

Facts: A message shared on WhatsApp groups claims that 30% of the people who got vaccinated against COVID-19 will die within three months.

The posts are followed by a link to an article that attributes the information to the American osteopathic physician and anti-vaccination activist Sherri Tenpenny. According to the text, people who have been vaccinated will die due to a "storm of cytokines'' in their bodies.

Truth: In an interview with the Brazilian fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, Rodolfo Bacelar, pulmonologist and sleep doctor at HCFMUSP (Hospital das Clínicas, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo), states: “Unlike viral infection, that generates such a storm, vaccines do not cause this reaction. Who generates the storm is the live virus, not any vaccine”. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 126 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 have been administered in the U.S.

and, until March 22, 2,216 deaths were reported among those immunized (0.0018%). A study by doctors from CDC and FDA also shows that there is no evidence that vaccines contributed to these deaths.

Portugal

Claim: Number of deaths from COVID-19 breaks records in countries with successful vaccine rollouts

Facts: Facebook users shared a blog post that claims that in the countries with the most successful vaccines rollouts the number of deaths from Covid-19 is on the rise. According to the text, in Israel, Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates, countries where the population was massively vaccinated, “the number of deaths from COVID-19 breaks all records”.

Truth: Contrary to what the post states, Israel, Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates registered a sharp decline in the number of deaths from Covid-19 after starting their vaccination programs.

Israel, for example, after a peak of 101 deaths on January 20, recorded 12 deaths on March 29. The United Kingdom, which reached a peak of 1,832 deaths on January 20, registered 22 deaths on March 29.

Kenya

Claim: Video of empty graves in Thailand is a sign of the rapture

Facts: Video shared thousands of times on Facebook shows a muddy graveyard and exposed burial plots. The posts claim that the images were recorded in Thailand and are an evidence of what Christians call the rapture, a biblical event that will mark the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Truth: A reverse image search shows that the video was recorded in June 2019, in the village of Shurkurgan, in Tajikistan. A report attributed to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) describes that the graves collapsed after the cemetery was flooded by the waters of a river that overflowed on the outskirts of the village.

Turkey

Claim: France to ban halal slaughter of chicken

Facts: Twitter users shared a post by the Turkish state-owned media TRT that claims that the French government will ban the halal slaughter of chickens.

Truth: On March 18, 2021, the Great Mosques of Paris, Lyon, and Evry claimed in a press release that “starting in July 2021, the Halal ritual slaughter of poultry in France will no longer be authorized.” The claim, however, is a misinterpretation of a note published by the French Ministry of Agriculture on November 23, 2020. In an interview with the AFP, Kamel Kabtane, president of the Lyon mosque, said: “The directive as it is written does not ban (halal slaughter), but it will greatly lower the quantity of poultry produced”.

The halal slaughter ban was also denied by Marion Giroud, spokeswoman for the French Ministry of Agriculture.