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.


Mattel has not released a pregnant Ken doll

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared the claim that toy maker Mattel has released a pregnant Ken doll. Some of the posts are accompanied by a video that allegedly shows a TV ad for the new product.


  • In statements to the press, the toy-making company says that “a pregnant male doll is not a Mattel product.”
  • A reverse image search shows that the video circulating on social media was originally published by the satirical website Babylon Bee on May 10.
  • On its “about us” page, Babylon Bee describes itself as “the world’s best satire site, totally inerrant in all its truth claims.”


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did not get divorced

False claim: Social media users in the United States have shared the claim that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, have divorced.

A video accompanying the posts claims that “Harry is back in England while Meghan stays in the United States with the couple’s two children.”


  • The video shared on social media, heavily critical of the duchess, attributes its claims to “anonymous sources” and adds the following caveat: “The signing of the divorce papers of Harry and Meghan is just a rumor in the media. The royal couple have yet to confirm.”
  • In fact, there is no official statement from the couple or any record in the mainstream media that Harry and Meghan have signed the divorce papers.

United Kingdom

Picture of Harry Styles wearing t-shirt with obscenity about Tories has been doctored

False claim: Social media users in the UK have shared a picture that allegedly shows English singer Harry Styles wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “all tories are cun**” written on the front.


  • A reverse image search shows that the original picture was taken in November 2014, when Harry, still a member of the band One Direction, was leaving a nightclub in Los Angeles.
  • It is possible to see in the original picture that the artist is wearing a black t-shirt with nothing written on it.
  • The text that appears on the image shared on social media, therefore, was added digitally.

Latin America

Image showing Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro next to Pablo Escobar is fake

False claim: Social media users in Latin America have shared a black-and-white picture that allegedly shows Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro standing next to the notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a shootout in 1993.


  • A reverse image search shows that in the original picture, posted on Facebook by Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, known as Popeye and Escobar's former right-hand man, the person appearing next to the Medellin Cartel leader was not Gustavo Petro.
  • Petro's face was digitally added to the picture from a photograph of him next to then-Venezuelan presidential candidate Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) taken by Colombian news agency Colprensa in July 1994 in Bogotá.


Homophobic billboard that went viral is not in 2022 FIFA World Cup host Qatar

False claim: Social media users in Brazil have shared a picture of an anti-LGBTQIA+ billboard that shows a man and a woman protecting two children from a rainbow, along with the claim that the image was allegedly taken in Qatar as part of the country's preparations to host this year's FIFA World Cup.


  • A reverse image search shows that the billboard was in fact installed at the Al Hedaya Islamic Center in the city of Riffa in Bahrain, an absolutist monarchy that has anti-LGBTQIA+ laws.
  • According to an article published by local newspaper Gulf Daily News Online on June 13, 2022 the billboard is part of a joint campaign by several Islamic entities in the country against LGBTQIA+ pride month.
  • The same image was posted on June 7 on the Al Hedaya Islamic Center's Twitter account, accompanied by a caption saying that the Islamic law serves as a “fortified shield against these abnormal thoughts and contrary to the natural instinct.”
  • Although Qatar also has anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, in a recent interview with Associated Press, Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari, a senior official overseeing security for the World Cup, insisted that LGBTQIA+ couples would be welcomed and accepted in the country during the event.
  • However, Al Ansari admitted that rainbow flags could be taken from fans at the World Cup to, according to him, protect them from being attacked.


South Africa not planning to launch R500 note and R10 coin

False claim: Social media users in South Africa have shared images showing a new 500 rand banknote and a new 10 rand coin allegedly issued by the country's Reserve Bank.

“This is the sign of the Rand is loosing value, inflation is hitting hard. Notes like R200 downwards are loosing value. Prices of things going up. Soon we'll buy a loaf of bread at R150,00,” reads the caption of some of the posts.


  • The first sign that the R500 bill is not genuine is the lack of former president Nelson Mandela’s image, included since 2005 by the Reserve Bank in the design of all South African banknotes.
  • A reverse image search shows that the shared image of the R500 bill has been circulating on the web since 2008, when it was uploaded to the design platform DeviantArt by a user called SouthernDesigner.
  • In the description of the image, the user reports that the banknote was created for a competition organized by the South African Reserve Bank.
  • The R10 coin, in its turn, is a commemorative gold bullion coin issued by the South African Mint in 2003.
  • The rumor has spread on social media after a fake Twitter account of the South African Reserve Bank announced the launch of the new banknote and coin on June 10.
  • The South African Central Bank’s verified Twitter account later published the following message refuting the claim: “Please note that this is a fake account and has been reported to Twitter. SA Reserve Bank is not planning to issue a R10 coin nor a R500 note.”