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.


Viral picture of Pope Francis wearing an oversized puffer jacket is AI-generated

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared an alleged picture of Pope Francis wearing an oversized white puffer jacket.


  • A reverse image search shows that the image shared on social media was not published by any official Vatican source or news agency as a real image of Pope Francis.
  • The picture originally appeared on the web in a Facebook post shared by a user named Guerrero Art on the group Midjourney Official along with other similar images. Midjourney is an AI program that allows people to generate images using prompts.
  • After a series of AI-generated fake images went viral, Midjourney’s founder David Holz announced on Discord on March 28, 2023 that the company has temporarily cancelled free trials of the AI art service “due to a combination of extraordinary demand and trial abuse.”


Picture of room with transgender, pride and NATO flags falsely linked to Nashville shooter

False claim: Social media users in the United States have shared an image of a cluttered room with transgender, pride, NATO and other flags hanging on the walls alongside the claim that it belonged to the shooter who killed three children and three adults at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 27.


  • The police named the suspect as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a former student of the school. Officers also informed that Audrey, who was fatally shot by police, self-identified as transgender, which sparked waves of anti-LGBTQ attacks on social media.
  • A reverse image search shows that the picture shared on social media was posted on Twitter on December 16, 2021 by a user who identifies herself as being in Michigan, more than 700 miles away from Tennessee.
  • In her post, which features a second picture of the bedroom after it had been tidied, the user wrote: “Before and after. I still need to clean out my closet so I can actually organize the mostly folded pile of clothes but I'm mostly done. I have to clean my desk next.”
  • In a statement to AFP on March 29, 2023 the user said: “I did take the photo and it is my bedroom. It got spread around as people were making fun of my mess despite me cleaning it up and it become (sic) a small meme but it only resurfaced due to conservatives claiming it was the shooter's room.”


Christine Lagarde did not say that ECB rate hike “will kill a lot of people, but it will also revive the economy”

False claim: Social media users in Europe have shared the claim that European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde stated that the increase in interest rates by half a percentage point, to 3.5%, announced on March 16, “will kill a lot of people, but it will also revive the economy”.

The posts are accompanied by a video in which Lagarde can be heard saying in English: “The change of this COVID policy will kill a lot of people, but it will also revive the economy.”


  • A reverse image search shows that the video shared in the posts was taken from Lagarde's participation at this year's World Economic Forum (WEF), which took place in the Swiss city of Davos between January 16 and 20.
  • In the original recording, available on the World Economic Forum website, it is possible to verify that Lagarde, when speaking about China's economic recovery, states that the country's decision to abandon its “zero COVID” policy “will kill a lot of people, but it will also revive the economy.”


Picture does not show Macron arguing after saying “Africa should be handed over to France”

False claim: Social media users in China have shared a picture of Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi apparently pointing at his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during a press conference.

According to posts, the image shows the two leaders arguing after Macron allegedly called Tshisekedi “a failure” and said that “Africa should be handed over to France.” Also according to the posts, Macron's comment occurred after Tshisekedi “accused France of involvement in the country's genocide in the 90s.”


  • A reverse image shows that the picture shared on social media was taken during a press conference that Macron and Tshisekedi gave on March 4, 2023 in the DRC's capital Kinshasa. The full video is available on the French presidency account on YouTube.
  • The image shared on social media corresponds to a moment at the press conference in which a journalist recalled Tshisekedi's controversial presidential victory in 2019 and raised concerns about DRC's upcoming elections in December. The journalist mentioned a comment made in 2019 by the then French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that Tshisekedi's victory was an “African-style compromise.”
  • Tshisekedi questioned why France was quick to criticize an “African-style compromise”, but did not speak of an “American-style compromise” or a “French-style compromise” over allegations of election irregularities in both countries.
  • In an apparent attempt to ease the tension, Macron replies that the journalist's question “is not France's position”, to which Tshisekedi interrupts: “I was referring to what Le Drian said. He is a French official! The 'African-style compromise' is Le Drian's words, not the journalist's.”


WHO has not reclassified 18 to 65-year-olds as “youth”

False claim: Social media users in Brazil have shared the claim that the World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its way of classifying the population according to age group.

According to the text that accompanies the posts, the alleged new system defines people up to 17 years old as “underage”, 18 to 65-year-olds as “youth”, 66 to 79-year-olds as “middle-aged”, 80 to 99-year-olds as “elderly/senior” and those above 100 “long-lived elderly”.


  • A search on the WHO page and on the agency's official accounts on social media does not find any publication informing about the alleged change in the classification of the population according to age group.
  • In a statement to the Brazilian fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, a spokesperson for the office of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) – WHO's branch in the Americas – in Brazil stated: “There are different ways to conceptualize and define old age, which vary according to each country that identifies the population and related policies according to local needs and realities - 60 to 65 years old are chronological benchmarks used.”
  • On its website, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs defines “youth” as people between the ages of 15 and 24. “Within the category of ‘youth’, it is also important to distinguish between teenagers (13-19) and young adults (20-24), since the sociological, psychological and health problems they face may differ,” reads the page.