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.

Please send us tips or claims to check at this email or at this X/Twitter account @BNFactCheck. Read this page to better understand our submission guidelines.

Viral image does not show recent US, UK airstrikes in Yemen

False claim: As the US and UK carry out airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, as part of an offensive started on January 11 and aimed at deterring the Iranian-backed rebel group from carrying out further attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea, social media users around the world have shared a picture of a large explosion, with buildings engulfed in smoke and flames, accompanied by the claim that the image shows one of these airstrikes.


  • A reverse image search shows that the image was originally published by Reuters in a report on March 26, 2022.
  • According to the article, the image shows a fire in two oil storage tanks at a Saudi Aramco facility in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on March 25, 2022 after an attack claimed by Houthi rebels.

Bloodied Palestinian baby doll created by Mexican artist

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared videos and photos of an alleged bloodied Palestinian baby doll on display at a toy stall.

The doll's packaging contains the Spanish phrase “incluye bebe palestino” (“includes Palestinian baby”), a “Made in Israel” stamp and the flags of the USA, NATO and the European Union.


  • A reverse image search shows that the images of the bloodied Palestinian baby doll were originally published on January 6, 2024 on the Instagram of Mexican artist Vlocke Negro.
  • After the images began to circulate on the web as if they were of a real product, Vlocke Negro shared an update on his account, stating that the creation of the doll is part of a “protest that tries to make visible what happens every day in the Gaza Strip.” According to the artist, the images were taken on January 5 at a popular market in the La Colonia Doctores neighborhood of Mexico City.
  • On January 12, Vlocke Negro published a new video on his account showing the process of creating the doll.

XBB is not a new, deadlier COVID-19 variant

False claim: Social media users in Latin America have shared messages warning of an alleged new COVID-19 variant, called Omicron XBB, which is five times more virulent and deadly than the Delta variant.


  • An internet search shows that warnings about the alleged new variant of the Coronavirus began circulating on social media in November 2022.
  • In a document published on October 27, 2022 the World Health Organization (WHO) informs that XBB “is a recombinant of BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 sublineages” of the Omicron variant.
  • The document also states that the data available at the time did not suggest the existence of “substantial differences in disease severity for XBB* infections.” “There is, however, early evidence pointing at a higher reinfection risk, as compared to other circulating Omicron sublineages,” adds the text.
  • The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published in September 2023 that “Over 300 XBB descendant lineages have been described so far.”
  • According to the WHO, which keeps an updated page with information on all new SARS-CoV-2 variants, the most recent “variants of interest” is JN.1, identified on August 25, 2023. “Considering the available, yet limited evidence, the additional public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low at the global level,” says the organization.

Zelensky did not buy a villa in Berlin that belonged to Goebbels

False claim: Social media users in Europe have shared the claim that Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky had recently bought the Bogensee villa, located on the outskirts of Berlin and which belonged to Joseph Goebbels, the minister responsible for Nazi propaganda during the Third Reich.


  • An internet search shows that the information was originally published on December 24, 2023 on a YouTube account called Sabine Mels.
  • In the video, a woman claims to have had access to a copy of the villa's sales contract through former colleagues at Berliner Immobilienmanagement GmbH (BIM), the Berlin state-owned company responsible for managing public properties. The clip includes a series of images of the alleged contract, dated October 11, 2023 and signed by a notary named Friederike Schulenburg.
  • In an interview with the German news website t-online, Friederike Schulenburg denied being responsible for the document and pointed to several elements that show that the contract presented in the video is a forgery.
  • Friederike Schulenburg is currently 80 years old and has not worked as a notary for ten years, as German law imposes a 70-year age limit to exercise the profession.
  • In a statement to AFP, Johanna Steinke, a spokesperson for BIM, said that the company's last attempt to sell the Bogensee villa was about ten years ago.