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.


Pfizer CEO did not resign after saying mRNA vaccines don't work

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared the claim that Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, has resigned after allegedly saying that mRNA vaccines are unsafe and ineffective.


  • In a statement to the press, a Pfizer spokesperson said that Albert Bourla has not stepped down as CEO and that the company's COVID-19 vaccine, based on the mRNA technology, “continues to be safe and effective for protection against severe disease and hospitalization.”
  • There is no record that Bourla has made any statement criticizing mRNA vaccines.
  • The mRNA technology, used in Pfizer and Moderna's COVID vaccines, has been in development for more than 15 years and has extensive scientific evidence that it is safe and effective, being approved by the world's leading health bodies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).


England’s Oxfordshire County Council has not passed a trial “climate lockdown”

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared the claim that Oxfordshire County Council in southeast England has approved a “climate lockdown” trial starting from 2024 to “save the planet” from global warming.

According to the posts, the plan would prevent residents from leaving their neighborhoods without permission from local authorities.


  • In a statement to the press, an Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson said that there is no plan to lock down residents in their homes, but rather a proposal to reduce congestion.
  • On November 29, Oxfordshire County Council approved a £6.5 million ($7.93 million) trial to limit private vehicle traffic on busy urban roads during peak hours.
  • According to the county’s website, six traffic filters will be installed “to reduce traffic, make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer.”


People Magazine cover featuring Ukraine’s Zelensky as “sexiest man alive” is fabricated

False claim: Social media users in the United States have shared a screenshot of the cover of an alleged new issue of the People Magazine featuring Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky and the phrase “the sexiest man alive.”


  • First, the screenshot shared on social media features a watermark from a social media account named Getting Triggered, which defines itself as a satirical page.
  • In a statement to Reuters, Julie Farin, a spokesperson for People Magazine, said that the cover circulating on social media was not published by the outlet.
  • In its November 2022 issue, People Magazine named actor Chris Evans as “the sexiest man alive.”
  • Although he did not appear on the People Magazine cover, Zelensky, on the other hand, was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in December.

Spain/Latin America

Video of demonstrators shouting “civil war” is not related to the current political crisis in Peru

False claim: Social media users in Spain and Latin America have shared a video showing a crowd of demonstrators running and shouting “civil war.” According to the posts, the images were recorded in Peru amid the political crisis in the country after the arrest of President Pedro Castillo, who is accused of rebellion and conspiracy after attempting to dissolve Congress on December 8.


  • A reverse image search shows that the same images appear in Latin American press articles about a demonstration that took place in November 2019 in La Paz in support of former Bolivian President Evo Morales.
  • According to Bolivian newspaper Al Día, “thousands of supporters” of Evo Morales, who had resigned from the presidency days earlier, marched through the streets of the Bolivian capital to demand the resignation of interim president Jeanine Áñez.


Video does not show brutal attack on homosexual in Qatar

False claim: Social media users in Kenya have shared a video of a person in a short dress and heels trying to escape from an attack by a group of men.

According to the posts, the clip shows a “homosexual” being brutally assaulted in Qatar, an Islamic country currently hosting the FIFA World Cup. “Qataris have said they do not want homosexuals in their country,” reads the caption of some of the posts.


  • In an excerpt of the video shared on social media it is possible to see the following message written in Arabic: “A homosexual in Tangier hit a child and (they) beat him with a stick.”
  • A Google search with the keywords in this text leads to a series of press reports about the arrest of four people suspected of beating a transgender woman in Tangier, Morocco.
  • Like Qatar, Morocco also criminalizes homosexuality with a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine.