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.

World

Billie Eilish did not say she wanted to be poor so she could connect with her fans

False claim: Posts on social media shared a screenshot of an alleged interview published in People magazine in which singer Billie Eilish reportedly stated: "When I got rich, I started balling my eyes out, I wanted to be poor so I can relate to most of my fans."

Truth:

  • Julie Farin, a spokeswoman for People, told AFP that the article shared on social media was never published by the magazine.
  • A reverse image search shows that the shared screenshot was doctored from an article published by People on July 22, 2021 and titled: “Billie Eilish Is ‘Much More Confident’ as She Drops Happier Than Ever: ‘I Felt Like I Wasn't Very Talented.’”
  • Eilish's brother, Finneas O'Connell, debunked the claims in a July 27, 2021 tweet: “Fake obviously. Honestly I just wish they'd label this account satire like the onion or something. I have no problem with a joke as long as people know it's a joke.”

World

Djokovic did not refer to Simone Biles when he said “pressure is a privilege”

False claim: Posts shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram claim that Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic reportedly commented on American gymnast Simone Biles' decision to withdraw from competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with the following statement: “Pressure is a privilege, my friend.

Without pressure there is no professional sport. If you are aiming to be at the top of the game you better start learning how to deal with pressure and how to cope with those moments.”

Truth:

  • According to Reuters, Djokovic said that phrase on July 28, 2021 when commenting on the pressure to achieve the Golden Slam, which is winning all four tennis Grand Slam singles titles and a gold medal at the Olympics in a calendar year.
  • The report published by Reuters makes it clear that Djokovic's statement was in reference to himself, and not to Biles: “‘Pressure is a privilege,’ Djokovic said when asked about the attention on him after reaching the singles quarter-finals and also winning a mixed doubles match on Wednesday.”
  • The posts shared on social media also omitted an excerpt from Djokovic's statement that makes it clear he was referring to his work on the tennis court: “If you are aiming to be at the top of the game you better start learning how to deal with pressure. And how to cope with those moments on the court but also off the court, all the expectations.”

Brazil

It is false that CDC claimed Coronavirus variants are “the vaccine itself”

False claim: Posts shared on Facebook and Instagram in Brazil claim that the CDC has allegedly declared that coronavirus variants are “the vaccine itself.”

Truth:

  • The currently available coronavirus vaccines use three different technologies: inactivated virus, messenger RNA, and viral vector. In none of the cases, however, a whole virus capable of multiplying and spreading among people is used.
  • All four coronavirus variants currently in circulation emerged before the start of mass vaccination campaigns around the world. The delta variant, for example, was identified in India in October 2020.
  • A person who has had the COVID-19 vaccine will only transmit the coronavirus if infected by it or one of its variants, so there is no possibility of spreading the disease just by having received doses of the vaccines currently available.

Spain/Latin America

Peru has not changed its name to Bolivarian Republic of Peru

False claim: An image shared in posts on Facebook and Twitter shows an alleged sign on the Peruvian border with the following message: “Welcome to the Bolivarian Republic of Peru.” “They have already changed the name of Peru,” reads the caption of some of the posts.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the image shared on social media was doctored.
  • The original image, taken in Desaguadero, on the border with Bolivia, and published by a local tourism agency, shows the following message on the sign: “Bienvenidos al Perú / Welcome to Peru.”
  • The Constitution of Peru, published in 1993 and available on the official website of the Peruvian government, states in Chapter I, article 43, the official name of the country as “Republic of Peru.”
  • The false claim comes amid the recent inauguration of 51-year-old teacher and trade unionist Pedro Castillo as Peru's new president, after defeating far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori.

USA/Australia

Video does not show forced vaccination in Australia

False claim: Social media posts share a video along with the claim that the images show an alleged police “mobile task unit” chasing people in Sydney and forcing them to take the COVID-19 shot.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the video was originally posted on Twitter on the morning of July 24, 2021. In the clip, a female voice can be heard saying that the police action is taking place in Victoria Park and that “the protest hasn't started yet.”
  • On July 24, around 3,500 protesters clashed with police in central Sydney during an anti-lockdown demonstration, resulting in 57 people being arrested.
  • Scenes of police arresting protesters in Victoria Park, similar to the video shared on social media, can be seen in several reports about the demonstration published that day by local media.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations remain voluntary for most of the population in Australia.

Nigeria

It is false that taking painkillers within two years of a COVID-19 vaccine leads to death

False claim: Posts shared on Facebook and WhatsApp in Nigeria claim that taking the anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac or having “any anesthesia” within two years of a COVID-19 vaccine leads to death.

Truth:

  • The claim surfaced on the internet following news that a postgraduate student at Madurai Medical College in India, identified as Hari Harini, died in hospital in March, six days after receiving a Diclofenac injection. Harini was vaccinated against COVID on February 5, 2021.
  • In statements to the local press, Meenakshi Mission Hospital, where Harini died, said that the woman's autopsy indicated that she suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which was the result of a severe allergic reaction to the diclofenac injection, but unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The CDC does not recommend taking painkillers before COVID-19 vaccination, but adds that over-the-counter painkillers are fine to help with post-vaccination side effects, a position also shared by the World Health Organization (WHO).