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

European Commission President has not called to scrap the Nuremberg Code

False claim: Posts shared on social media claim that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for the abandonment of the Nuremberg Code in order to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.

Truth:

  • The false claim spread on social media after a press conference on December 1, 2021 in which the European Commission president said that the bloc's members should consider making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.
  • During the press conference, however, Von der Leyen did not mention the Nuremberg Code. There is also no recent record of interviews or statements in which she called for getting rid of the code.
  • Created in 1947 following the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime during the Second World War, the Nuremberg Code sets out ten ethical principles to protect people from involuntary and unethical medical experimentation.
  • The vaccines currently in use against COVID-19 are not experimental, having gone through all the necessary stages of development to make them safe and effective.

USA

COVID-19 vaccine warehouse was not set on fire in Italy

False claim: Social media users shared a video of a building partially consumed by flames, alongside the claim that the fire was allegedly set intentionally by members of the Italian military to destroy a warehouse holding COVID-19 vaccines in protest after the government approved mandatory vaccination for security forces.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the same video was originally published by the Italian press on December 15, 2021 in articles about a fire that broke out at the Carabinieri police barracks in Tor di Quinto, Rome.
  • In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson for the Carabinieri General Headquarters said the fire broke out in the dormitories of the 8th Regiment and that there was no COVID-19 vaccine storehouse in the building.

Europe

Video does not show Santa Claus being arrested by German police for not wearing a mask

False claim: Social media users shared a video in which police officers appear to arrest a man dressed as Santa Claus at a Christmas market in Stralsund, Germany.

According to the posts, the man was arrested because he was not wearing a face mask.

Truth:

  • In a statement on December 14, the Stralsund Police Department said that the man dressed as Santa Claus was part of a group of 65 people who gathered at the city's Christmas market to protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The statement also informs that the man dressed as Santa Claus was taken by officers to a patrol car to determine his identity after he refused to show any identification and was released about an hour later.

Brazil

It is false that mRNA vaccines are toxic to children

False claim: Facebook and WhatsApp users in Brazil have shared a video in which American virologist Robert Malone claims to be the creator of messenger RNA vaccine technology and that Covid-19 vaccines using this technology –like Pfizer and Moderna– cause damage to children's bodies.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

According to him, mRNA vaccines induce children's bodies to produce toxic proteins, which can cause permanent damage to the immune, nervous and reproductive systems.

Truth:

  • Contrary to Malone's claim, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that currently available scientific evidence shows that mRNA vaccines induce the production of a harmless version of the Spike protein found in the novel Coronavirus, leading the immune system to produce antibodies and create a protection against COVID-19.
  • Both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend children older than 5 years to be vaccinated.
  • Regarding the claim that he is the creator of messenger RNA vaccine technology, Malone indeed contributed with studies on the induction of immune response through the injection of genetic material, but he cannot be considered the inventor of mRNA technology, since it is the result of the work of several researchers over the past decades.

Singapore

Video does not show fire-emitting bird that causes forest fires

False claim: A video has been shared by social media users alongside the claim that the footage shows an alleged species of fire-emitting bird that is responsible for forest fires in Australia.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the video was originally posted on YouTube on December 14, 2020 by Brazilian visual-effects artist Fabricio Rabachim.
  • Titled "Quero-Quero Power", the video features the following description: “Everyone who has ever encountered the quero-quero [a bird species commonly found in South America] protecting its nest knows how threatening it is, but few have seen its true power…”.
  • Rabachim told AFP that he had recorded the bird in a park in São Paulo, and that he later enhanced the original footage using digital effects to make it look as if the animal was emitting fire.
  • Australian ornithologist Bob Gosford told AFP that there is no record in nature of any bird species capable of emitting fire.

Uruguay

Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou was not elected by the U.N.

as the best president in the continent

False claim: Facebook and Twitter users in Uruguay have shared posts claiming that the country's president, Luis Lacalle Pou, was elected by the United Nations (U.N.) as the best president of the American continent.

Truth:

  • The same content had already been shared on social media in July 2020. At the time, in a statement to AFP, the then U.N. Resident Coordinator in Uruguay, Mireia Villar, said that the information about Lacalle Pou was false and that the U.N. does not publish any ranking of this kind.