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

It is false that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was arrested by the FBI

Fake claim: Posts shared on social media claim that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was arrested by the FBI on November 5, 2021. According to the posts, Bourla was arrested at his home in Scarsdale, New York, on charges of fraud for manipulating data on COVID-19 vaccine.

Truth:

  • In a statement to the press, Pfizer denied that Bourla was arrested.
  • The false claim was originally published by Canadian website The Conservative Beaver, famous for sharing other Fake News stories.
  • On November 5, the same day he was allegedly arrested, Bourla gave interviews to CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg. In the following days, Bourla gave an interview to The New York Times and attended an event of the Atlantic Council.

World

Italy has not changed its COVID-19 death toll from 130,000 to under 4,000

False claim: Posts shared on Facebook claim that Italian authorities have revised the number of the country’s COVID-19 deaths from over 130,000 people to 3,783.

Truth:

  • The false claim seems to stem from an article published by the Italian newspaper Il Tempo on October 21. The article states that, according to a report published by the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS) on October 5, 2021 only 2.9% of COVID-19 deaths in the country could actually be counted as deaths caused by the Coronavirus.
  • What the ISS report states, however, is that only 2.9% of the people who died of COVID-19 in the country had no comorbidities, which does not mean that the other 97.1% who had comorbidities did not die of COVID-19.
  • In a statement on October 25, ISS rejected the incorrect interpretation of the report that only 2.9% of the deaths attributed to coronavirus were directly due to COVID-19.

USA

Deaths at Astroworld music festival were not caused by 5G

Fake claim: Posts on social media claim that the deaths of at least eight people at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, Texas, on November 5, were caused by 5G technology.

“This stadium was recently installed with wide band FIVE G. Look it up yourself. Tell me this isn’t a weapon,” reads the caption of some of the posts.

Truth:

  • According to local authorities, fans were crushed to death near the stage amid a stampede that occurred during rap star Travis Scott's performance at Astroworld music festival.
  • Contrary to what the social media posts claim, 5G ultra-wideband service was installed at NRG Stadium, where the concert took place, in 2019. Since then, several events have taken place at the venue without any reports of deaths.

Spain/Latin America

Replica of the Statue of Liberty made from debris in Syria was doctored

False claim: Facebook users in Spain and Latin America shared a photo of a replica of the Statue of Liberty alongside the claim that it had been built by a Syrian artist in Aleppo using debris of his own house.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the image was originally published on September 8, 2012 by Syrian artist Tammam Azzam.
  • In a statement to AFP, Azzam said that the work is part of a series of photomontages he made in Dubai in 2012.
  • According to the artist, the intention of the work was to emphasize the importance of freedom and to honor Syrians who have lost their lives and homes during the country’s recent civil war.

India

Satellite image does not show Diwali celebration from space

False claim: Social media users have shared a collage showing the alleged difference between a satellite photograph of India on a normal day and another taken during Diwali, the “festival of lights,” celebrated this year on November 4.

Truth:

  • According to information from NASA, the image that allegedly shows India during Diwali celebrations was created in 2003 by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist Chris Elvidge combining a series of satellite images taken in 1992, 1998 and 2003 in an attempt to show India’s population growth over time.
  • NASA also states that the light produced during Diwali is so subtle that it is likely imperceptible when observed from space.

Brazil

China did not release thousands of lab birds to spread virus

False claim: Facebook and WhatsApp users in Brazil have shared a video showing a large number of birds being released from shipping containers on a ship at sea. The posts are followed by the claim that the images show animals raised by China in a laboratory and released to spread a new virus.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the video was originally posted on YouTube on November 1, 2017. The title of the post, written in Mandarin, states that the clip shows the release of pigeons by Taiwan's Beihai Jinping fleet.
  • A news report published on the same day by the Liberty Times Net website states that the Beihai Jinping fleet was training for a pigeon race, a very common sport in Taiwan.