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

Video does not show fire at Pfizer lab in Madrid

False claim: Video of a fire was shared on Facebook and Twitter followed by the claim that the flames had hit a Pfizer lab in Madrid, Spain.

Truth:

  • In a statement to Politifact, Andrew Widger, a spokesman for Pfizer, said that the video actually shows a fire at a composting factory near Pfizer's plant in San Sebastián de los Reyes, in the Madrid metropolitan area.
  • Contrary to what the posts claim, Pfizer has a plant in the Spanish town, and not a laboratory.
  • An article published on the Spanish website El Confidencial on September 2, the same day the video started being shared on social media, shows that lightning caused a fire at a composting factory in San Sebastian de los Reyes, information confirmed by Madrid's emergency services.

World

Image is not a real representation of the “world's smallest bird”

False claim: An image of a bird the size of a human fingernail has been posted on social media alongside the claim that it is the smallest bird species ever recorded in the world.

“The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, found in the Zapata in Cuba. It beats its tiny wings an incredible 80 times a second,” reads the caption of some of the posts.

Truth:

  • While it is true that the world's smallest bird species is the bee hummingbird and that it is found in Cuba, the image shared on social media does not represent this animal. 
  • A reverse image search shows that the picture of the bird the size of a human fingernail was posted on Facebook by the Natural Sciences department of Rome's Sapienza University as part of an April Fools’ joke.
  • A later post by the university clarifies the joke and credits the photo to Bulgarian artist Ina Malinik, who specializes in miniatures. 
  • According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the average size of a bee hummingbird is 5.7 cm in length.

USA

Hospitals in Oklahoma are not overwhelmed by ivermectin overdoses

False claim: Articles published in the press and shared on social media claim that overdose cases linked to the use of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin for the treatment of Covid-19 have overwhelmed hospitals in Oklahoma, leaving gunshot victims waiting for care.

Truth:

  • The false claim originated from remarks made by Oklahoma family doctor Jason McElyea to local television station KFOR.
  • Oklahoma hospitals in which McElyea has worked have denied the claim that they are overwhelmed. Northeastern Health System Sequoyah said it “has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin,” while Integris Grove Hospital said a handful number of patients who used ivermectin were admitted to its emergency room.
  • Scott Schaffer, Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, told AFP that ivermectin-related cases remain relatively low.
  • The false claim comes amid a surge in U.S. consumption of veterinary ivermectin with the false promise that the drug would protect against Covid-19.

Spain/France

Video does not show women being detained in a store for not showing COVID-19 vaccination certificate

False claim: A video circulating on social media shows two women being chased and handcuffed by police at a mall in Paris.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

The posts are followed by the claim that the detentions occurred after the women failed to present their COVID-19 vaccination certificates before entering a store.

Truth:

  • Articles published by the French press on September 4 show that the two women were arrested for being part of a demonstration against the measures imposed by the French government to curb the spread of COVID-19, in particular the requirement of so-called vaccine passports to enter places such as restaurants and hospitals.
  • The original video was recorded by journalist Amar Taoualit, who posted it on his Twitter account with the following caption: “Demonstration against health passports in Paris. Demonstrators storm the Westfield Forum des Halles shopping center.”
  • In a video posted on its Twitter account, the Paris police said the arrests at the mall were motivated by assaults on police officers and contempt of cop.

South Korea

South Korea has not proposed legislation to make PCR tests mandatory

False claim: Posts shared on social media in South Korea claim that a bill proposed on August 19, 2021 by a group of Seoul-based lawmakers led by Choi Hye-young from the Democratic Party of Korea, makes PCR tests mandatory in the country.

Truth:

  • In a statement to AFP, a spokesperson for Choi's office said that “there are no mentions of making PCR tests compulsory in the bill or elements that could lead this bill to be used for such practice.”
  • The bill, in fact, focuses on regulating manufacturers and importers of in vitro diagnostic medical devices.

Brazil

It is false that Chinese men blocked a bridge in Brasília during Independence Day demonstrations

False claim: A video was shared on social media along with the claim that the images show Chinese men blocking “Brasilia’s main bridge” during demonstrations last September 7, day in which Brazil's Independence is celebrated. The protests were in support of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal critic of China.

Truth:

  • The images are from a protest that took place in July 2014 at the Praça dos Três Poderes, in Brasília, during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • The demonstration was organized by Falun Gong meditation practitioners against the persecution of the ritual, forbidden in China.
  • In statements to the press at the time, protesters said they had been aggressively approached by a group of Chinese men.