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

The word Omicron does not mean ‘end time’ in Greek

False claim: Posts shared on social media claim that the word Omicron, used by the WHO (World Health Organization) to name the latest variant of the Coronavirus, means “end time” in Greek. “Omi Omni Omega Greek for (end) Cron Chron Chronos Greek for (time) Omicron is the ‘end time’ virus,” reads some of the posts.

Truth:

  • In an interview with Reuters, Paris Papamichos Chronakis, lecturer in Modern Greek History at Royal Holloway, University of London, said that the letters Omicron and Omega are distinct and that Omicron is actually composed of the words “o” and “micron” (little), and not “chronos” (time).
  • Also to Reuters, Anastasia Giannakidou, director at the Center for Hellenic Studies at the University of Chicago, said that the correct term for the word “end” in Greek is “telos”, and not “omega.”

World

Video does not show BioNTech CEO refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine

False claim: Social media users have shared a video of an interview of BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin in which he claims that he had not yet taken the COVID-19 vaccine.

The posts are followed by the claim that Sahin allegedly refused to take the jab despite insisting that others get it.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the video shared on social media was published by the German news agency DW in December 2020.
  • At the time, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was just starting in Germany and only a few select groups, such as the elderly, were eligible to take the first dose.
  • In the months following the DW interview, Sahin received both the first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster jab.

USA

UN is not handing out $800 to “illegal migrant families” heading to the U.S.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

from Mexico

False claim: An article shared on social media claims that the United Nations is handing out $800 to “illegal migrant families” traveling from Mexico to the United States. The article is followed by a photo that appears to show a man giving a card to a woman.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the article shared on social media, published by the Gateway Pundit website, was based on a tweet published on November 20 by Todd Bensman of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a think tank that advocates to reduce immigration levels.
  • Speaking to AFP, Alberto Cabezas Talavero, a spokesperson in Mexico for the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the agency does not hand out debit cards, only “e-wallets which can be used to purchase certain items at certain locations and cannot be exchanged for cash.”
  • “The maximum amount which can be delivered to a family through the e-wallets is approximately $395, depending on family size,” Talavero said.

Italy

It is false that ATMs require Covid pass to withdraw cash

Fake claim: Social media users in Italy shared an image of a QR code on an ATM screen, along with the claim that a bank in the country was requiring its users to scan their Covid passes in order to withdrawal cash.

Truth:

  • The image shared on social media clearly shows the message “Prelievo cardless” (“Cardless withdrawal”, in English), which demonstrates that the QR code has no relation to the Covid pass currently in use in the country.
  • On its website, the bank defines the “Prelievo cardless” service available at its ATMs as follows: “Leave your card in your wallet. All you need to withdraw money is your smartphone. With the Intesa Sanpaolo Mobile app, it's as easy as taking a picture! And you can do it at the more than 7,700 Intesa Sanpaolo Group ATMs in Italy.”

Brazil

Image does not show a pregnant athlete who won 800m race in U.S. championship

False claim: Facebook users in Brazil shared an image of American athlete Alysia Montaño competing pregnant in an 800-meter race, along with the claim that she won the competition.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the photo was taken by Associated Press photographer Rich Pedroncelli in June 2014 during the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, California.
  • According to press reports published at the time, Montaño was 34 weeks pregnant when she participated in the competition and finished the race in last place.

New Zealand

Campaign poster for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with the slogan “No jab, No job” has been doctored

False claim: Social media users in New Zealand have shared an image of an alleged official poster of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with the following message: “Remember to book your Christmas booster! Each booster gives you up to six months worth of freedoms.” The poster also features a headshot of Ardern and the slogan “No jab No job” above the Labour Party logo.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the photo shared on social media was doctored from an original poster used during the 2020 election, before the COVID-19 vaccine roll out in the country.
  • Apart from the Prime Minister's headshot and the Labour Party logo, the poster simply reads Ardern's campaign slogan: “Let's keep moving.”