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 of crowd in Austria does not show an anti-lockdown protest

False claim: Social media users have shared a video of a crowd marching down a street, alongside the claim that the clip shows a protest in Austria against the recent restrictive measures imposed in the country on people not vaccinated against Covid-19.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the video was published, among other media outlets, by the Austrian digital newspaper RP Online on November 29, 2019.
  • According to the newspaper, the clip shows thousands of fans of the German team Borussia Monchengladbach marching toward the Merkur Arena in the Austrian city of Graz, before a Europa League match against Wolfsberger AC.

World

Photo does not show a woman who fled East Germany in 1955

False claim: Social media users have shared a black and white image of a young woman kneeling next to a group of soldiers, alongside the claim that the scene shows a woman who fled communism in East Germany in 1955.

According to the posts, the white line appearing on the ground would be the border between the two Germanies, where years later the Berlin Wall would be built.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the shared image is actually a scene from the 1962 Italian film “Oggi a Berlino,” directed by Piero Vivarelli.
  • Between 1949 and 1961, more than three million citizens fled East Germany. To stop the exodus, the communist regime began in 1961 to build the famous wall that would divide Berlin until 1989.

USA

White House did not suggest Taco Bell as an alternative to Thanksgiving dinner

False claim: Social media users have shared a post from a Christian parenting blog that claims White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki reportedly told journalists that in the face of rising food prices in the U.S., people could replace the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with Taco Bell.

“The value menu at Taco Bell is just as tasty and a lot more affordable,” Psaki allegedly said.

Truth:

  • An internet search shows that the claim was originally posted on Instagram on November 22 by the satirical account Beep Satire.
  • Beep Satire's bio describes the account as: “Satire, jokes, & media flops. 100% Fake News made for you.”
  • There is no record in the official transcripts of White House briefings of Psaki making the alleged statement about Thanksgiving dinner and Taco Bell.
  • The false claim comes as the U.S. records a rise in inflation amid a strong rebound in the U.S. economy following the depression caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal rose 14% compared to 2020.

Spain/Latin America

Black Friday has nothing to do with black slave trade

False claim: Posts shared on social media in Spain and Latin America claim that the term Black Friday has its origins in the black slave trade.

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According to the posts, on the last Friday in November, American slave traders used to sell off their slaves for the winter season.

Truth:

  • According to Snopes, the term Black Friday started to be used in the United States in 1951 and referred to the practice of calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving in order to have four consecutive days off.
  • The last ship with slaves arrived in the United States in 1860, and slavery was abolished in the country in 1863, almost one hundred years before the term Black Friday started to become popular in the U.S.
  • Another popular explanation for the origin of the term Black Friday is that on this day, with the promotions and large volume of sales the day after Thanksgiving, retailers finally recorded profits, turning the records in the accounting books from red to black.

Brazil

WHO director-general did not say that he does not recommend celebrating Carnival in 2022

False claim: Posts shared on Facebook in Brazil claim that the director-general of the WHO (World Health Organization), Tedros Ghebreyesus, has stated that he does not recommend celebrating the Carnival in 2022.

Truth:

  • In a statement to the Brazilian fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, the WHO said that Ghebreyesus has never declared to be against celebrating the Carnival in 2022.
  • In the official transcripts of WHO’s press conferences, available on the organization's website, the only mention of Carnival and the pandemic was made by Sylvain Aldighieri, PAHO’s incident manager.
  • In April 2021, Aldighieri said that the sequence of holidays between the end of 2020 and the first months of 2021 –Christmas, New Year's Eve, Carnival and Easter week– triggered a big movement of population and the relaxation of public health measures in all countries of South America and Central America, leading to “an increase in cases and deaths that could have been avoided.”

Africa

TIME magazine cover with former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga as Person of the Year is fake

Fake claim: Facebook users in Kenya have shared an image of an alleged cover of the TIME magazine featuring Raila Odinga, Kenyan former Prime Minister (2008-2013) and opposition leader, as Person of the Year.

Truth:

  • In a statement to AFP, Time magazine said that Odinga was not chosen as Person of the Year. "This image is not an authentic TIME cover," the magazine said.
  • While the fake version shared on social media shows the phrase "November issue" in the top-left corner, the magazine's original covers contain full dates in the top-right corner.
  • According to TIME magazine's website, the Person of the Year 2021 will be announced on December 8.
  • The next presidential elections in Kenya are scheduled for August 2022, and Odinga, the current opposition leader, is expected to be a candidate.