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.


Discovery claim of scroll of the Book of Esther in Iran is fake

False claim: Social media users have shared images of an alleged original scroll of the Book of Esther, a text that recounts the liberation of the Jewish people from a plan to exterminate them in the 5th century BC, during the reign of Xerxes I. “The original book of Esther was recently found in Iran by a Jew who lived there.

The scroll is from 1500 years ago. The beauty is everything written in pure gold,” reads the description of one of the posts.


  • Speaking to the AFP, Lawrence Schiffman, a professor and director of New York University's Global Network for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies, said the document is clearly a fake and features an arbitrary arrangement of Hebrew letters.
  • Also to AFP, Jodi Magness, an archaeologist and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, highlighted the fact that the scroll features a star of David, something she said did not become a symbol of Judaism before the Middle Ages.


White House not selling coins honoring Zelensky

False claim: Social media users in the United States shared images of two commemorative coins with the face of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, along with the claim that the items were allegedly created by the White House as part of its “Historical Moments” series.


  • A reverse image search shows that the coins in the posts were created and are being sold by a store called the White House Gift Shop.
  • Contrary to what the name might imply, the store is private, having no connection with the U.S. Presidency or the Joe Biden administration.
  • In a statement to AP, Anthony Giannini, CEO and executive director of the shop, said that “The White House Gift Shop is privatized.”
  • There is no record of the commemorative coins honoring Zelensky on the official White House website.


Map of underground bunker of Azovstal steel plant is actually an illustration of a board game

False claim: Social media users in Italy shared an image of a bunker with a research laboratory, a greenhouse, a cistern, and a dormitory, along with the claim that that was a representation of a supposed underground shelter existing at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, which has been the target of an offensive by Russian forces in recent days.

The posts, which use the hashtag #BiolabsinUkraine, propagate the conspiracy theory that the Azovstal hides a secret NATO base housing biological laboratories. The image of the bunker has even been used by some Italian TV shows to illustrate the battle in Azovstal.


  • A reverse image search shows that the image shared on social media is actually from a board game called “Blackout: Journey into Darkness,” which never reached production after its crowdfunding campaign failed.
  • The game, created by Richard T. Broadwater, is set in a post-apocalyptic world infested with parasitic creatures that force humans to live hidden in bunkers.

Latin America

Pope Francis did not say that negationists will go to hell for not getting vaccinated

False claim: Social media users in Latin America have shared an alleged reproduction of a front page from the Spanish newspaper El Mundo with the following headline: “Pope Francis predicts negationists will go to hell for not getting vaccinated.” “At the ceremonial mass this New Year's Eve, Pope Francis will ask negationists to get vaccinated to enter the kingdom of heaven and will warn that if they don't, they will have to deal with the devil himself,” the article's subtitle reads.


  • Although Pope Francis has spoken out in favor of vaccination against Covid-19, there is no record, either in the press or in official Vatican channels, that he has said that people will “go to hell” if they don't get vaccinated.
  • A reverse image search shows that the picture of Francis on El Mundo front page was taken by AFP correspondent Filippo Monteforte on January 6, 2022 –and not on New Year's Eve as claimed– during the Epiphany Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
  • A search for the other news in the page shows that the front page was actually published on April 27, 2021, but did not originally contain the headline about the Pope, which was digitally manipulated.


Photo does not show Russia sending food to Shanghai in 2022

False claim: Social media users in Asia shared a photo of boxes labelled with an image of Chinese and Russian flags, along with the claim that the boxes contain food sent by Moscow to the city of Shanghai, which is facing a food shortage amid a strict lockdown to contain a Covid-19 outbreak.

“Even under Western bullying and sanctions, embattled Russia still donated 6 million catties (3,600 metric tonnes) of rice and flour to support Shanghai's fight against the pandemic,” reads the caption of the posts.


  • A reverse image search shows that the image shared on social media was posted on Twitter by China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on April 3, 2020.
  • According to the publication, the image shows medical supplies that China sent to Moscow in 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Article claiming link between referee whistles and heart problems in athletes is fake

False claim: Social media users in South Africa have shared a purported screenshot of an article from the Irish Examiner that claims referee whistles could be causing heart problems in athletes.


  • A search on the Irish Examiner's website and its official Twitter and Facebook accounts show that there is no record of the article that is circulating on social media.
  • In a statement to Reuters, Tom Fitzpatrick, editor of the Irish Examiner, said that “no such article has ever been published” by the newspaper.