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

Colin Powell's death is not evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective

False claim: Posts on social media suggest that the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell at the age of 84, due to complications from COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated, is evidence that COVID vaccines are ineffective.

Truth:

  • Although Colin Powell's family stated that he had indeed received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the former Secretary of State suffered from two very serious underlying conditions: Parkinson's disease and multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that reduces the body's ability to fight infections.
  • According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 187 million people have received the two doses of the vaccine in the country, of whom 24,717 were hospitalized but survived, and another 7,178 died.

Italy

WHO has never stated that the next pandemic will be caused by Marburg virus

False claim: Facebook users in Italy have shared an alleged statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the next pandemic will be caused by the “Marburg virus.” According to the posts, this would be a WHO strategy to hide the adverse effects of the current COVID-19 vaccines.

Truth:

  • First identified in 1967 in Belgrade, in present-day Serbia, and in the German cities of Frankfurt and Marburg, from which it takes its name, the Marburg virus belongs to the same family as Ebola and causes a severe hemorrhagic fever, with a fatality rate of up to 88%.
  • The hemorrhagic fever, on the other hand, is not noted as a possible adverse effect of any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use around the world.
  • The Marburg virus has been monitored by the WHO for decades, with some cases of human-to-human transmission reported recently in Africa, but the organization has never issued a warning about a possible risk of a pandemic caused by the virus.

Asia

Photo does not show North Korean leader Kim Jong-un thinner

False claim: Facebook users in South Korea have shared a collage of two images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The posts claim that one of the photos is from 2019, in which the dictator appears with his usual physiognomy, and that the other was taken recently in 2021, in which he allegedly appears much thinner.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the image of Kim Jong-un supposedly thinner was originally published by the North Korean state agency KCNA on September 9, 2021.
  • Although the North Korean leader appears to have lost weight recently, the original photo makes it clear that the image shared on social media was doctored to make the dictator appear much thinner.

Latin America

There is no record of a death in Colombia related to the Korean series “Squid Game”

False claim: Posts shared on social media in Latin America claim that a child was killed in Colombia in a game based on the Korean series “Squid Game”.

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According to the posts, the child was killed by his own father while simulating the games that appear in the Netflix production. The posts are also followed by an image of a forensic scientist that works for Colombia's Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (Dijin).

Truth:

  • An internet search for the keywords “child,” “Colombia,” and “Squid Game” shows that there is no record in the Colombian press of a case similar to the one described in the social media posts.
  • A reverse image search of the photograph that follows the posts shows that the image has been used in recent weeks to illustrate reports about the murder of a five-year-old boy.
  • According to Colombian media reports, the child was killed by his father in the southwestern city of Palmira. The suspect also attacked a 78-year-old woman and then injured himself in the chest. The case, however, was registered by local police as “intrafamily violence,” with no relation to the Korean series.

Brazil

It is false that a toy company is selling a doll with female dress and male genital organ

False claim: In a video shared on social media in Brazil, a woman claims that the company Cotiplás, which manufactures toys for children, released on the market a doll that wears a female dress and has a male genital organ.

During the clip, the woman also claims that the product box did not warn the customer that the doll has these features.

Truth:

  • In a statement on its official Facebook account, Cotiplás informs that it does not manufacture or sell any doll with the characteristics described in the video.
  • Cotiplás also claims to be responsible only for the dress that appears on the clip –which is why the company's name appears on the label–, but that the clothes were placed “maliciously” on the doll, “misleading the consumer.”
  • A search on the toy manufacturer's website shows that there is no doll being sold with the same characteristics described in the video shared on social media.

World

South African archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu is not dead

False claim: Posts shared on social media claim that South African anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize laureate archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu died on October 20, 2021.

Truth:

  • The claim was originally posted by a fake Twitter account created under the name of Anglican archbishop Stephen Moreo of Johannesburg. Later, the page was deleted.
  • In a statement on its official website, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said the rumor on social media was false, and that the archbishop emeritus was alive, having celebrated his 90th birthday on October 7, 2021.
  • To AFP, Moreo said he was not the author of the false claim and that he is not responsible for the Twitter account that published the information.