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 showing “plastic coffins” in a field does not prove Coronavirus pandemic was planned

False claim: A video from a 2010 episode of the truTV series “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura” is being shared on TikTok and Facebook to claim that the coronavirus pandemic was planned by the U.S. government. In the clip, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones show what they claim are hundreds of thousands of “plastic coffins” on a plot of land in the city of Madison, Georgia.

According to them, that could be an indication that the government was preparing for a biological pandemic, which would be used to kill thousands of “dissidents.”

Truth:

  • The containers that appear in the video are not “plastic coffins,” but rather burial vaults, or grave liners, and are produced by a company called Vantage Product Corp.
  • In a statement to Politifact, Lisa Barlow, the company’s vice president, indicates that the burial vaults are meant to protect interred coffins and prevent the soil on the grave walls from collapsing.
  • “The majority of cemeteries across the United States require the use of a burial vault when a body is interred,” Barlow said

World

CDC did not warn of a polio-like disease outbreak in 2021

False claim: Posts shared on social media claim that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned last August of a polio-like disease outbreak in 2021.

The posts claim that the warning is an attempt to cover up side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Truth:

  • In a statement to AFP, CDC spokesperson Scott Pauley said that the agency has not issued any such alert in 2021.
  • The claim appears to have been based on an alert issued by the agency on August 4, 2020, four months before the start of coronavirus vaccination in the United States, in mid-December.
  • Also to AFP, Pauley said that acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), cited in last year's statement, has no relation whatsoever with COVID-19 vaccines, which CDC assures are safe.

USA

Rudy Giuliani did not turn down a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II

False claim: In a speech last September 11, during an event marking the 20th anniversary of the Twin Towers attacks, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani claimed that he had refused a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II because, as he said, accepting it would require him to renounce his American citizenship.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Truth:

  • In February 2002, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed an “honorary” knighthood on Giuliani in recognition of his response to the 9/11 attacks. Former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and former FDNY Commissioner Tom Von Essen also received the honor.
  • While it is true that only British or Commonwealth citizens can receive “full” knighthoods, foreigners are offered a so-called “honorary” knighthood, as Giuliani was.
  • Contrary to what Giuliani implied in his speech, foreigners do not have the option of relinquishing their citizenships and acquiring a British one in order to receive a “full” honor.

Brazil

Apple did not announce it will only unlock iPhone 13 for vaccinated people

False claim: An article shared on social media claims that Apple will unlock the new iPhone 13 only for people vaccinated against COVID-19.

The article is followed by an alleged video of the company announcing the new feature.

Truth:

  • In a statement to the Brazilian fact-checking agency Fato ou Fake, Apple confirms that the claim is false and that the video attached to the article is not official.
  • The clip, which simulates a traditional Apple keynote, was originally published by satirical website The Babylon Bee.
  • During the official event to present the new iPhone 13, on September 14, 2021 Apple did not mention any restriction on the use of the device by people who have not taken the COVID-19 vaccines.

Portugal

Al-Jazeera did not say that Portugal supports ISIS

False claim: Social media users in Portugal have shared an image of the country's president, Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, taking a selfie with two people, one of whom was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of links to Islamic State.

The image displays the logo of Qatar's Al Jazeera TV network and the following phrase: “Portugal supports Daesh.”

Truth:

  • The image shared on social media was digitally manipulated to include the Al Jazeera logo and the phrase accusing Portugal of supporting the Islamic State. A search on the broadcaster's website shows that no such news has been published recently.
  • The photo of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, however, is real and was taken in June 2018, during a visit by the Portuguese president to the Mezze restaurant in Lisbon, known for its work in refugee integration.
  • One of the employees of the restaurant at the time was Yasser, an Iraqi citizen who was arrested earlier this month, along with his brother, on suspicion of being part of the Islamic State.
  • At the time of the president's visit to the restaurant, both Yasser and his brother were already being monitored by the Portuguese police. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, however, assured in recent days that he had not been informed of the presence of a suspected terrorist at the site.

Africa

Images do not show schools destroyed by rebels in Ethiopia

False claim: Two photographs of destroyed buildings have been shared by Facebook users in Ethiopia alongside the claim that the images show schools destroyed in the northern region of Amhara following an attack by rebels linked to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the two photos shared on social media were actually taken in the U.S. The first, from October 2019, shows a school destroyed by a tornado in Dallas, Texas. The second image shows debris around a school in Joplin, Missouri, following a tornado in May 2011.
  • Since November, 2020 the Amhara region has been scarred by violent clashes between government troops and TPLF rebels. The conflict has left thousands dead and triggered a severe humanitarian crisis.
  • Although the images shared on social media were not taken in the African country, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, more than 7,000 schools have been damaged amid the conflict between official troops and TPLF rebels.