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 CDC did not say PCR tests are not reliable for detecting COVID-19

False claim: Posts shared on social media claim that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has withdrawn emergency use authorization for tests that use the RT-PCR technique to diagnose Coronavirus. According to the posts, the decision comes after the agency found that these tests are incapable of differentiating between SARS-CoV-2 and influenza.

Truth:

  • The false claim is based on a misinterpretation of a statement published by the CDC in July 2021.
  • At the time, the CDC recommended that U.S. laboratories replace a specific test (2019-nCoV), in use since the beginning of the pandemic and capable of detecting only the novel coronavirus, with a new one, called CDC Influenza SARS-CoV-2 (Flu SC2) Multiplex Assay, capable of identifying both the influenza and COVID-19 simultaneously.
  • According to the CDC, the decision to request the removal of 2019-nCoV from the list of tests with emergency use authorization was made with a view to saving time and resources, and not because of an alleged ineffectiveness of the test.

World

European Parliament President David Sassoli did not die after taking the third dose of the Covid vaccine

False claim: After the death of the European Parliament President David Sassoli earlier this week, posts shared on social media started to claim that the 65-year-old Italian politician died due to an adverse reaction after taking the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Truth:

  • According to Sassoli’s spokesperson, Roberto Cuillo, the politician had been in a hospital in Aviano, Italy, since December 26, 2021 after a “serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system.”
  • Last September, Sassoli spent weeks in hospital after contracting pneumonia that forced him to stay away from his activities until November.
  • Ten years ago, Sassoli had undergone a bone marrow transplant due to a myeloma, a type of cancer that affects plasma cells, which consequently left him with a weakened immune system.
  • There is no scientific study linking immune system dysfunction to COVID-19 vaccines.

USA

McDonald’s did not tweet that it would not hire people who have traded cryptocurrency

False claim: Twitter users have shared an alleged tweet made by McDonald's official account in which the fast-food chain claims it “will not hire any individuals that have held, traded or sold cryptocurrencies.”

Truth:

  • A search on Twitter shows that the official McDonald's account did not post the message that is circulating on the web. The image shared on social media was doctored to simulate a publication by the fast-food chain.
  • In September 2021, McDonald's began accepting Bitcoin payments in its restaurants in El Salvador, after the country became the first in the world to adopt the cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Spain

Pedro Sánchez did not admit he was “extorted” to allow vaccination of children in Spain

False claim: Social media users have shared an alleged front page of December 28, 2021’s edition of the Spanish newspaper Heraldo de Aragón with the headline “Incredible statements by Sánchez on the pandemic.” According to the posts, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez publicly admitted that he was “extorted by Europe and the pharmaceutical companies” to allow in Spain the vaccination of children against COVID-19.

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Truth:

  • A search on the official Twitter account of Heraldo de Aragón, which publishes the daily cover of the newspaper's print edition, shows that the front page of December 28, 2021 does not correspond to the content that was shared on social media.
  • In a statement to AFP, Heraldo de Aragón's press office said: “We confirm that this front page is not real.” There is no record in the Spanish press that Pedro Sánchez declared what is circulating on social media.
  • On December 1, 2021 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued a statement recommending the vaccination of children between the ages of 5 and 11.

Brazil

Bahrain's king does not have a bodyguard robot

False claim: Facebook users in Brazil shared a video, alongside the claim that the clip shows Bahrain’s king with his bodyguard robot.

“The King of Bahrain arrives in Dubai with his bodyguard, a robot that speaks 6 languages and can rescue him from enemies. It can physically fight, chase, shoot. Armed with an electric teaser, a 360-degree camera system with a set of infrared cameras, 3 concealed machine guns with enough ammunition to fight 1,500 men, and a laser-guided machine gun. It also carries medicine and water. Cost: $7.4 million. Is it the end of times?" reads the captions of some of the posts.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the video shared on social media was recorded in February 2019, during the 14th edition of the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
  • Instead of a bodyguard robot, the clip shows Titan, a 2.40-meter tall entertainment robot created by British company Cyberstein Robots that can be rented for events.
  • The man who appears in the clip next to Titan is not King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain either.

Australia

Video does not show tsunami hitting Australia

False claim: Social media users shared a video with several scenes of destruction, alongside the claim that a tsunami reportedly hit the coast of Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory, following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Truth:

  • No tsunami alerts have been issued in recent weeks for Darwin, or anywhere along Australia's northern coast, according to the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre.
  • The false claim comes after local media reported on December 30 that residents of Darwin felt tremors following a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in the Banda Sea, near Indonesia.
  • A reverse image search shows that the clips in the video shared on social media have been circulating on the web before December 2021. There are scenes that were recorded in Alaska in July 2020, in Tokomaru Bay on the east coast of New Zealand in March 2021, in Indonesia in September 2018, and in the Bahamas in September 2019.