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

U.S. did not leave more than $80 billion worth of military equipment to the Taliban

False claim: Posts shared on social media claim that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan left the Taliban, which retook power in the country last August 15, more than $80 billion worth of military equipment such as helicopters, weapons, and Humvees.

Truth:

  • According to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the figure of more than $80 billion reported in the posts reflects the amount of money the United States has spent to train, equip and maintain military forces in Afghanistan over the past two decades.
  • Speaking to Politifact, defense expert John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, said that "very little" of the more than $80 billion would have been spent on equipment. According to him, the Taliban probably obtained less than $10 billion worth of equipment.
  • Many of the publications share a graphic titled "Taliban's New Arsenal," published by the British newspaper The Times. The graphic, however, shows the sum total equipment that has been provided to the Afghan military over the past 20 years, not taking into account equipment that has been removed from the country, disabled, or destroyed.

World

Queen Elizabeth II did not ask for Cristiano Ronaldo's autograph

False claim: After Cristiano Ronaldo confirmed his return to Manchester United on August 31, posts on social media started to claim that Queen Elizabeth II had allegedly requested a jersey signed by the Portuguese player.

Truth:

  • The claim began to spread on social media after the website Sport Innovation Society posted the information on its Twitter account on September 1. The post was later deleted and replaced with the following message: “We could not confirm the veracity of the note from the Queen and CR7 so we decided to delete the tweet. Apologies.”
  • Queen Elizabeth II has never openly declared which team she supports. According to speculation published in the press in recent years, however, the monarch would be a fan of West Ham or Arsenal.

USA

Image does not show New Orleans evacuation due to Hurricane Ida

False claim: Posts on Facebook and Twitter shared a photo of a highway with gridlock traffic in both directions along with the claim that the congestion was caused by the large number of people trying to leave New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Ida.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the shared image was published by the Los Angeles Times in November 2017 and shows a traffic jam on the 405 freeway during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans last Sunday, August 29, as a Category 4 storm, causing at least two deaths and leaving more than 1 million people without power.

Spain/Latin America

It is false that an alleged famous businessman sent planes to take people out of Afghanistan

False claim: An image shared on Facebook shows a man next to the claim that he is the "famous businessman and nuclear physicist" Francisco Córdoba, known as Guti, who allegedly bought three planes to help Afghans fleeing the Taliban regime.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Truth:

  • There is no record on the internet of a businessman and nuclear physicist named Francisco Córdoba or Guti. A reverse image search of the alleged entrepreneur along with the name Francisco Córdoba or the nickname Guti also yields no results.
  • A reverse image search shows that of the three planes that appear in the collage shared on social media, two are from the U.S. Air Force and one from the Afghan airline Kam Air.

Brazil

It is not true that a new bill prohibits ultrasound exams to find out the sex of a baby

False claim: Posts shared on social media show a screenshot of an article claiming that a new bill passed in Brazil prohibits ultrasound exams to find out the sex of unborn babies.

The subhead of the news article claims that the bill assumes that “babies are neutral.”

Truth:

  • The information shared on social media was originally published on the Brazilian satirical blog Melhor Não Ler. At the end of the text there is the following disclaimer: “This article is fiction, but it might not be…”.
  • The text, which ignores the distinction between biological sex and gender, claims that the bill was proposed by a congresswoman named Juju Pimenta, but there is no congresswoman with that name in the Brazilian House of Representatives.
  • A search on the websites of the Brazilian House of Representatives and Senate shows that there is no such bill approved or being discussed in the Congress.

Nigeria

Newspaper headline about state-sponsored marriages in Nigeria is fabricated

False claim: Facebook posts share an alleged front page of the This Day newspaper, one of Nigeria's most influential media outlets, with a headline claiming that the governor of Imo state in the country’s southeast had ordered state-sponsored marriages “between Fulani settlers and Imo ladies.” The article also states that the governor intends to pay dowries for Fulani herdsmen willing to marry women from within his state and that a fine of about $2,400 would be imposed on parents who refuse to give consent.

Truth:

  • In a statement, the governor’s chief press secretary Oguwike Nwachuku said the claim is false. “The ill conceived publication shows how desperate individuals and groups can get in trying to destroy the society, thinking that Governor Uzodimma is the issue,” he said.
  • In a post on its official Twitter account, This Day said the front page shared on social media was doctored from an August 27, 2021 edition of the newspaper.
  • The false claim emerges in a context of historical animosity between the Fulani settlers, traditionally nomadic cattle herders, and the Igbo ethnic group, inhabitants of Imo, which, combined with the high cost of marriages in the region, makes marriages between the two groups rare.