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

WHO chief did not say countries are giving booster shots to “kill children”

False claim: Social media users have shared a video of World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus alongside the claim that he allegedly admitted during a press conference that some countries are using COVID-19 booster shots to “kill children.”

Truth:

  • The clip shared on social media is part of a press conference on December 20, 2021 in which Tedros spoke about the need to prioritize vaccination efforts in poor countries and more vulnerable populations, rather than giving booster doses to children.
  • In a statement to AFP, the WHO said that Tedros stuttered during the press conference: “During his delivery of the word 'children', he got stuck on the first syllable 'chil' and it came out sounding like 'cil/kill.' He then correctly pronounced the same syllable immediately after, with it coming out audibly as 'cil-children'. Any other interpretation of this is 100% incorrect.”

USA

Judge did not seal 'all evidence and proof' in Ghislaine Maxwell case

False claim: Facebook users have shared a video in which conservative commentator David J.

Harris Jr. claims that the judge in the Ghislaine Maxwell case sealed “all the evidence and proof of who helped Ghislaine Maxwell sex traffic children.”

Truth:

  • Contrary to what the posts claim, judge Alison J. Nathan, who was in charge of the case, did not seal all the evidence and proof. In fact, most of the evidence has been published by media outlets and is publicly available.
  • Nathan restricted the public release of only one item, Maxwell's address book, allowing just certain pages to be used as evidence.
  • Maxwell's trial ended on December 29, when she was convicted by a jury on five counts of sex trafficking.

Europe

U.K.

government has not admitted that Covid vaccines damage the immune system of the double-vaxxed

False claim: Posts on social media claim that the U.K. government has reportedly admitted in a report that the COVID-19 vaccines damage the immune system of those who take it. “The U.K. government has stated that after receiving the two doses you can never again have full, natural immunity to COVID variants, or possibly to any virus,” reads the posts.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

Truth:

  • In a statement to the Spanish fact-checking agency Newtral, the U.K. Health Security Agency said that the information shared on social media is “completely false.”
  • Contrary to what the social media posts claim, the U.K. Health Security Agency report, published on October 21, states: “There is some evidence of waning of protection against infection and symptomatic disease over time, though protection against severe disease remains high in most groups at least 5 months after the second dose.”

Brazil

Photo does not show Chilean president-elect holding image of Jesus Christ as transgender

False claim: Facebook and WhatsApp users in Brazil shared an image of Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric holding what, according to the captions of the posts, was an image of Jesus Christ as a transgender.

Truth:

  • Contrary to what the social media posts claim, the photo Boric holds does not show an image of Jesus Christ as a transexual, but rather a collage in which the face of singer Taylor Swift was pasted over a traditional image of the Sacred Heart.
  • Boric, who is an outspoken admirer of Swift's work, received the collage from a female supporter on the day of the Chilean primaries on July 18, 2021.

Africa

Image does not show Mohamed Salah renewing his contract with Liverpool

False claim: Facebook and Twitter users shared a photo of Egyptian soccer player Mohamed Salah smiling with a pen in his hand and ready to sign a piece of paper, along with the claim that the image shows the athlete renewing his contract with the English team Liverpool FC.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the image shared on social media was originally taken in June 2017 by Getty Images photographer Andrew Powell and captioned: “Liverpool announce signing of Mohamed Salah.”
  • In the image, Salah is wearing a jersey from New Balance, the company that sponsored Liverpool until 2020, when it was replaced by Nike.
  • The false claim comes amid rumors in the press that the French team Paris Saint-Germain would be interested in Salah, who still has 18 months left on his current contract with Liverpool.

Asia

Video does not show a failed attempt by China to launch airstrikes near Taiwan

False claim: Facebook users have shared a video that shows a military aircraft firing missiles during flight and being targeted by artillery fire from the ground.

The posts are followed by the claim that the clip shows China's aircraft attempting to carry out an airstrike near Taiwan.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the clip was originally posted by the Gorib gaming Facebook page.
  • The video, as described on the page, shows a scene from the game "Arma 3", and not an actual military operation.
  • The misinterpretation of the video comes amid increased tension between China and Taiwan, with the Chinese air force conducting repeated missions near Taiwan, an island that claims independence but which China classifies as a “renegade province.”