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.


Putin has not banned 5G in Russia due to concerns over the technology's safety

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared a claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly banned 5G across the country and destroyed all 5G towers over alleged concerns that the technology could pose health risks to the population. The posts also state that the decision was taken after 5G caused the deaths of school children near St.



  • A web search shows that the claim circulating on social media was originally published on August 5, 2023 by a website called Real Raw News, which describes itself as follows on its “About Us” page: “Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody, and satire.”
  • There is no record in the Russian press, nor in international agencies operating in the country, of any decision by Putin regarding the 5G ban. There are also no credible reports about school children killed by 5G near St. Petersburg.
  • Contrary to what the viral posts claim, on June 20, 2023 Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said during a session on the development of the country's telecommunications sector until 2035 that one of the Putin government's goals for the coming years is to speed up the transition to the 5G network.


Picture does not show Elon Musk, his mother and kneeling maid in apartheid-era South Africa

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared a picture that shows a blonde woman sitting in an armchair with a child on her lap while a black woman wearing an apron kneels on the floor next to them.

The posts claim that the image shows billionaire Elon Musk as a child, accompanied by his mother and the family maid during apartheid in South Africa.


  • A reverse image search shows that the picture shared on social media was taken by American photographer Rosalind Fox Solomon. The image is available in the archive of the National Gallery of Art, accompanied by the following description: “Mother, Daughter and Maid / Johannesburg, South Africa / 1988.”
  • Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1971, which means he was around 17 years old when the photo was taken. It was also around this time that he left South Africa to attend university in Canada, subsequently settling in the U.S., where he currently lives.

United Kingdom

“Disease X” is not a new pandemic that scientists are plotting

False claim: Social media users in the United Kingdom have shared an article published by British broadcaster Sky News with the following headline: “‘Disease X’: UK scientists begin developing vaccines against new pandemic.” According to the posts, this would be an indication that the next pandemic is being plotted by scientists.


  • The Sky News article, published on August 7, reports that a team of more than 200 scientists are working at a high-security government laboratory at Porton Down in southwest England, developing vaccines for “a list of animal viruses that are capable of infecting humans and could in future spread rapidly around the world.” “Which of them will break through and trigger the next pandemic is unknown, which is why it's referred to only as ‘Disease X’,” reads the text.
  • The work is part of the so-called “100 Days Mission”, a global initiative that aims to develop safe and effective vaccines against any potential pandemic threat within 100 days of its identification.
  • Contrary to what the viral posts on social media suggest, the term “Disease X” is not new, being used by the World Health Organization (WHO) at least since 2018 to represent “the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease”.


Death penalty has not been reinstated in the Philippines

False claim: Social media users in the Philippines have shared a video claiming that the country's President Ferdinand Marcos reinstated the death penalty in the country.

The thumbnail of the video features a picture of Marcos holding a document with his signature.


  • A search of the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, which publishes all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, finds no law restoring the death penalty in the country.
  • A reverse image search shows that the picture of Marcos featured in the thumbnail was actually taken on July 18, 2023 after he signed into law a bill creating an $8.9 billion sovereign wealth fund. The full video of the ceremony can be found on the YouTube page of Radio Television Malacanang, which is linked to the Philippine presidential office.
  • The death penalty was in force in the Philippines from the time the country was a Spanish colony until 1987, when it was abolished at the end of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr, father of the current president. After being reintroduced six years later, it was abolished again in 2006.


Video does not show attack on French embassy in Niger

False claim: After a military coup ousted Niger's democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, social media users in Africa shared a video of about 45 seconds in which a building can be seen on fire.

According to the posts, the footage shows the destruction caused by an attack on the French embassy in Niger.


  • A reverse image search shows that the video shared on social media actually shows an attack carried out on July 27, 2023 by coup supporters against the headquarters of Bazoum's party, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS). Media outlets such as Associated Press and Euronews have published other videos showing the PNDS headquarters in flames.
  • French diplomatic sources consulted by the AFP reported that demonstrators did in fact try to storm the country's embassy in the days following the coup, but were prevented by security staff.