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.


Greta Thunberg’s detention in Germany was not “staged by the media”

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared the claim that Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s detainment last Tuesday, January 17, during a protest against the demolition of a village in Western Germany to pave the way for the controversial expansion of a coal mine, was actually “staged by the press.”


  • In a statement to Reuters, a spokesperson for the local police said that Greta Thunberg's arrest was not staged and that its officers “are not the extras” for her.
  • According to reports from German news agency DPA, Greta Thunberg was detained by police along with other demonstrators after the group “left the permitted demonstration route” to head toward the mine.


Bill Gates did not say he wants to ‘vaccinate animals to give them better genetics’

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared a video of billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates, accompanied by the claim that he allegedly stated in the clip that he wants to “vaccinate animals to give them better genetics.”


  • The video shared on social media was originally published on January 26, 2018 on the official Twitter accounts of the University of Edinburgh and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which used the following caption: “Bill Gates explains why #UKaid is partnering with @GatesFoundation to fund groundbreaking research to protect agriculture and farmers from around the world against devastating diseases.”
  • In the original clip, it is possible to hear Gates making the following comment about animal breeding initiatives: “The Gates Foundation has partnered with DFID on a great number of things and, among those, are work we do together on livestock. Helping animals survive either by having vaccines or better genetics, helping them be more productive.”
  • Gates' statement makes it clear that he is referring to vaccines and genetic improvement as two separate things, not that the latter would be achieved by applying the former.

Spain/Latin America

Rhinos are not “officially extinct”

False claim: Social media users in Spain and Latin America have shared the claim that rhinos are “officially extinct.”


  • In a statement to the Spanish fact-checking agency Newtral, the international organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) denied the claim circulating on social media and said: “A subspecies and populations in specific places have gone extinct, but depending on the species, some are in decline and others have increased.”
  • According to the WWF, there are currently three species of Asian rhinos (Javan, Sumatran and Indian) and two species of African rhinos (black and white) in the world, totaling about 28,500 animals.


Video does not show man being electrocuted due to Bluetooth earphones

False claim: Social media users in Africa and Asia have shared the video of a man being electrocuted on the platform of a train station, accompanied by the following claim: “Avoid using Bluetooth earpieces close to high-tension electrical facilities & cables eg railway stations.

The brain might be struck directly by electrical current from the cables precipitating quick death.”


  • A reverse image search shows that the scene happened at the Kharagpur railway station in West Bengal, India on December 7, 2022 and was widely reported at the time by the local press.
  • According to the articles, the victim in the video is Sujan Singh Sardar, who works as a ticket inspector. He was electrocuted after a live wire fell on his head, sustaining severe burn injuries.


It is false that Putin declared support for Brazil's capital rioters

False claim: Social media users in Brazil have shared a video of a TV statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by a caption in Portuguese, according to which he declared support for the rioters that stormed Brazil's capital on January 8 and tried to overturn the country's democratic elections.

“I would first like to congratulate the people for their courage to protest against this farce! We will give all our military support to Brazil’s armed forces in case of a foreign military intervention,” Putin allegedly said in the clip.


  • A reverse image search shows that Putin's speech shared on social media was broadcasted on October 10, 2022 during a meeting with members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
  • The full video and the transcript of Putin's speech – both in Russian and English – are available on the Russian government's official website.
  • During the video, among other issues related to the conflict with Ukraine, Putin blamed Kyiv for the explosion of a bridge connecting Russia to Crimea.
  • In an official statement published on January 9, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We resolutely condemn the actions of the instigators of the riots and absolutely support Brazilian President Lula da Silva. We support his actions aimed at restoring law and order in the country.”