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

Bill Gates did not say COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective

False claim: Social media users have shared an excerpt from an interview of billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates, followed by the claim that the clip shows him acknowledging that COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective.

Truth:

  • The clip shared on social media is part of a conversation between Bill Gates and Britain’s former health secretary Jeremy Hunt on November 5 2021 at an event organized by the British think tank Policy Exchange.
  • Contrary to what the posts claim, Bill Gates did not say in the conversation that COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective, but rather said that, in his opinion, preparation for the next pandemic should include research into vaccines that stop transmission of the virus, something they do not effectively do now.
  • However, COVID-19 vaccines currently in use around the world are highly effective at preventing severe disease.

USA

It is false that a distant relative of President Joe Biden was a train robber

False claim: A post shared on social media claims that genealogical research has shown that President Joe Biden had a distant relative named Remus Biden, who was hanged in 1889 in Texas for horse stealing and train robbery.

The posts are followed by a black and white photo of a man being prepared to be hanged.

Truth:

  • The same text used to spread the rumor about Joe Biden's ancestor has already appeared on the internet in recent years, with versions citing from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to former Vice President Al Gore and former Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
  • A reverse image search shows that the man who appears in the black and white photo is actually train robber Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum, executed on April 26, 1901, in Clayton, New Mexico.

Italy

It is not true that PCR tests in New York cost $250

False claim: During an episode of “Otto e Mezzo”, an Italian popular talk show, Fabio Volo – Italian actor, writer and radio host – said that the “COVID test to go to Italy” from New York “costs 250 dollars.” He usually lives in New York and explained: “Where I live there is a drugstore and every Friday there is a queue because many people are not vaccinated and in order to go out on Friday or Saturday night they get the COVID test on Friday.”

Truth:

  • The statement is inaccurate. Prices are different across the country. According to the New York State government website, there are several Health Department's COVID Express sites scattered around the city whose tests are “free to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.”
  • An article published in the New York Times in September 2021 stated: “At the drugstore, a rapid COVID test usually costs less than $20.”

Brazil

Pfizer CEO's wife did not die from COVID-19 vaccine complications

False claim: Posts shared by Facebook and WhatsApp users in Brazil claim that Myriam Bourla, wife of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, died on November 10 from complications after taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Truth:

  • In a statement to the Associated Press, Pfizer spokesperson Amy Rose said: “Our CEO’s wife is alive and well, contrary to what was said on the Internet.”
  • Albert Bourla published in his Twitter account a photo of him and his wife during an event organized by the Atlantic Council on November 10, the same date on which she allegedly died from the vaccine.

Nigeria

Photo does not show man deported from Spain after taking money he found to the police

False claim: Facebook users in Nigeria shared a photo of a man holding a brown envelope next to a police officer, followed by the claim that the image shows an African undocumented immigrant who was deported from Spain after returning to the police 4,250 euros that someone had lost on the street.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the image was originally published in several articles in the Spanish press on August 14, 2020.
  • The reports state that an unknown man found 4,350 euros in a bag in Valencia and brought it to the police station. Police officers later found the owner of the money and returned the sum to him.
  • According to the reports, the man in the image is the owner of the money, who received it back after being located by the Spanish police in France, where he was working.

China

Yale music school did not offer Chinese pianist Li Yundi a professor role

False claim: Posts shared on social media in China claim that Yale University offered a faculty position to Chinese pianist Li Yundi after he was detained in Beijing on October 21 on suspicion of hiring a sex worker.

Truth:

  • In a statement published on October 31, Robert Blocker, dean of Yale University's School of Music, denied that Li Yundi has been offered a position on YSM’s faculty.
  • Li's detention comes amid a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on culture and entertainment sectors, in what has been classified by experts as an attempt to increase “ideological control.”
  • Li became famous in China after winning in 2020, at the age of 18, the 14th Frédéric Chopin international piano competition in Warsaw, becoming the youngest competitor in history to take the prize.