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 Drake and The Weeknd song was AI-generated

Fake claim: Social media users around the world have shared the song “Heart On My Sleeve” last weekend, along with the claim that it was the result of a collaboration between Canadian singers Drake and The Weeknd.


  • The track was originally posted on TikTok by a user named Ghostwriter977, who claimed to have used artificial intelligence to generate the voices of Drake and The Weeknd. In the comments of his own post, the user made the following statement: “I was a ghostwriter for years and got paid close to nothing just for major labels to profit.”
  • Removed from the main streaming services and social networks last Monday at the request of Universal Music Group (UMG), which owns the publishing rights of the two artists, the song racked up more than 600,000 Spotify streams, 15 million TikTok views and 275,000 YouTube views.


Defense Department did not award COVID-19 research contract before virus emerged

False claim: Social media users in the United States have shared an article claiming that the U.S.

Department of Defense awarded a contract for “COVID-19 research” in Ukraine in November 2019, months before the first cases of the disease were reported in January 2020, and before the World Health Organization announced the official name of the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus on February 11, 2020.


  • An internet search shows that the information shared on social media was originally published by the British website The Exposé, famous for propagating conspiracy theories about the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Exposé cites as the source of the information a sub-award registered on the official website In the document, dated November 12, 2019 the Department of Defense gives the company Labyrinth Global Health $365,911 for “SME manuscript documentation and COVID-19 research.”
  • However, as Andrea Chaney, a spokesperson for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, explains to USA Today, this sub-award is part of a much larger contract signed in October 2019 with construction engineering company Black and Veatch to support “Ukraine's peaceful and safe biological detection and diagnostic capabilities and to reduce biological threats” through equipment, supplies and training.
  • According to Chaney, the contract was modified in April and June 2020 to provide additional pandemic-related support. Labyrinth Global Health is a subcontracter to Black and Veatch and received a sub-award to assist with the overall contract.
  • The changes are not visible on the government's website, but the description of the June 2020 update says that the goal was to provide “mentorship support to perform Remote Mentoring on COVID-19 Laboratory Diagnosis, Biological Safety and Laboratory Emergency Response in Ukraine.”


Pope Francis did not say pedophiles have a special place in heaven

False claim: Social media users in countries like Portugal and Italy have shared the claim that Pope Francis reportedly made the following statement recently: “Pedophilia is a mysterious disease and we should not judge those who suffer from it.

Instead, we should accept that God loves pedophiles, created them for a reason, and reserved a special place for them in heaven.”


  • A search of the website and social media accounts of Vatican News, the official news agency of the Holy See, does not find any statement from the pope similar to the one shared on the web.
  • No news agency or major media outlet in Italy and around the world has reported such a statement from the pope.
  • On July 14, 2022 during a meeting at the Vatican with members of three religious orders, Pope Francis called for “zero tolerance” in cases of child abuse and urged the religious leaders to report such cases.


Bill Gates did not buy Coca-Cola stock and ordered to add messenger RNA to the Coke

False claim: Social media users in Brazil have shared a video in which a woman claims that billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates allegedly bought “a large part” of Coca-Cola shares and ordered the addition of messenger RNA to the Coke.


  • In a statement published on its website in Brazil, Coca-Cola said that “the videos that are circulating on social media about a theory of alleged alteration of the Coca-Cola recipe in association with Bill Gates to include 'vaccines' with messenger mRNA are false.”
  • Still according to the company, “all the ingredients used in our products are safe, approved by regulatory agencies and appear on the packaging label”.
  • In February 2023, Bill Gates acquired a 3.76% stake in Dutch beverage giant Heineken Holding NV, buying 10.8 million shares previously held by Femsa, a Mexican company that bottles and distributes Coca-Cola Company drinks. The purchase, therefore, did not make Gates a shareholder in Coca-Cola.
  • Owner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, known for funding research and development of vaccines, including COVID-19, Bill Gates is a frequent target of conspiracy theories spread by anti-vaccine groups.
  • Contrary to what the viral video suggests, the messenger RNA technology present in some of the COVID-19 vaccines does not penetrate the nucleus of human cells, where the DNA is, and disappears from the body a few weeks after inoculation.


Viral pictures of hotel and bridge on fire do not show the effects of unrest in Sudan

False claim: Social media users in India and Africa have shared images of a bridge and a building on fire, along with the claim that the images were allegedly recorded in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, amid intense clashes in recent days between the country's Armed Forces and paramilitary groups.


  • A reverse image search shows that the picture of the burning bridge was actually recorded on October 8, 2022 after an explosion destroyed a section of the Kerch bridge, which connects Russia to the Crimean peninsula.
  • Also through a reverse image search it is possible to see that the image of the building, which appears in flames in the social media posts, was originally posted on Twitter on August 26, 2013 and shows the Corinthia Hotel, located in Khartoum.
  • In the original photo, however, the building is not on fire, which indicates that the fire and smoke that appear in the viral picture were digitally added to the image.
  • In a statement to India Today newspaper, a spokesperson for the Sudan Union of Journalists said that the Corinthia Hotel was not damaged amid the clashes in the country and that it remains operating normally, including hosting the local Al-Jazeera office.