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.

French army has not sent troops to Ukraine to fight Russia

False claim: Social media users in Brazil have shared the claim that units of the French Army were deployed to Ukraine to “fight Russian forces.” “According to some sources, French army units, including the prestigious 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment, are on their way to NATO member Romania and then plan to enter Ukraine with the aim of settling in Odessa,” reads part of the caption of some of the posts.


  • An internet search shows that the claim was originally published on March 14, 2024 on an X account called FranceNews24 (not to be confused with French state TV France 24).
  • In a publication on the evening of March 14, after deleting the previous post, the FranceNews24 account published the following retraction: “We would like to sincerely apologize for a recent error in one of our tweets. An unverified and conspiratorial source was inadvertently cited. This does not reflect our journalistic standards. We are committed to correcting this error and strengthening our verification procedures. Thank you for your understanding.”
  • In a statement to the Brazilian fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces said that there had not been “any movement of troops towards the Eastern European flank.”
  • The false claim comes after French President Emmanuel Macron made the following statement during a press conference on February 26, 2024, when asked about sending Western troops to Ukraine: “Nothing should be excluded. We will do everything that we must so that Russia does not win.” In an interview with Le Parisien newspaper on February 16, Macron said, however, that the Western allies “will never lead an offensive” or “take the initiative” against Russia.

BBC has not changed its logo from red to black amid Kate Middleton’s absence

False claim: Amid many speculations and conspiracy theories in recent weeks over Kate Middleton’s health, as the Princess of Wales has been away from public life since she underwent planned abdominal surgery in January, social media users around the world have shared the claim that the BBC has changed its logo on its social media accounts from red to black, in an alleged sign of mourning.

The rumors around Prince William's wife have intensified after she admitted to posting a doctored photo of her and her children on March 10, 2024. Some of the posts also suggest that the alleged change in the BBC logo is linked to King Charles III, who was diagnosed with cancer last February.


  • A search on the Wayback Machine, a platform that allows access to old versions of web pages, indicates that at least since 2021 the BBC's accounts on social networks such as X, Facebook and Instagram have the company's logo on a black background.
  • In a post on her X account on March 18, 2024, Olga Robinson, assistant editor at BBC Verify, the BBC's fact-checking service, dismissed the rumor.
  • The confusion among internet users seems to stem from the fact that the BBC has for years used a different color branding for its main account (black background), its News accounts (red background) and its Sports accounts (yellow background).

Italy's PM Giorgia Meloni did not claim that Italy has an “ancestral right” to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia

False claim: Social media users around the world have shared a screenshot of an alleged news article published on February 5, 2024, with the following title: “PM Meloni claims Italy’s ancestral right to all of Europe, North Africa & Western Asia in a rare interview with Tucker Carlson.” The image is accompanied by a clearly doctored photo of Giorgia Meloni wearing ancient Roman clothing.


  • A reverse image search shows that the claim was originally published on February 9, 2024, by a Reddit user called Rough Roman Memes. Despite having the same title, this version of the screenshot features the Reuters logo and the same photo of the Italian Prime Minister, but wearing contemporary clothes.
  • A search on the Reuters website shows that the screenshot that went viral is a doctored version of an article published by the agency on February 5, 2024, and titled: “Italy PM says finds Stellantis CEO comments on subsidies ‘bizarre’.”
  • There is no evidence that former Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson has recently interviewed Giorgia Meloni, nor is there any record of an official statement by the Italian Prime Minister about her country’s “ancestral right.”

Viral photo does not show Ukrainian volunteer who joined Israeli army and was abused

False claim: Social media users in Spain and Latin America have shared an image of a woman in combat fatigues, accompanied by the claim that she is a Ukrainian volunteer called Maria Kharshov, who joined the Israeli army and ended up being abused by her brigade colleagues.

“This is the morality of the ‘most moral army in the world’,” reads the caption of some of the posts.


  • A reverse image search shows that the viral image was originally published by Reuters in May 2026, in an image gallery about the role of women in the Israeli army.
  • Taken by Reuters photographer Amir Cohen, the image is accompanied by the following description: “An Israeli soldier of the Caracal battalion stands next to backpacks after finishing a 20-kilometer march in Israel's Negev desert, near Kibbutz Sde Boker, marking the end of their training, May 29, 2014. The "Caracal" battalion, two-thirds of whose members are women, was established in 2004 with the purpose of incorporating female soldiers in combat units. The main mission of Caracal is routine patrols on Israel's border with Egypt to intercept infiltrators and smuggling from the Sinai desert.”

AI and elections

by David Mazzucchi

Donald Trump is not “dropping out” of the upcoming presidential election

False claim: A post viewed more than 161,000 on TikTok claimed that Donald Trump was “dropping out of the 2024 presidential race”.

The video, which mostly featured pictures of Trump and brightly colored titles with narration from an AI-generated voice, claimed that the former President made the announcement in front of his supporters, leaving the “crowd stunned.”


Donald Trump has not dropped out of the presidential race, and has in fact clinched the nomination for the Republican Party as of March 12th.

TikTok removed the video after it was flagged by Politifact, which partners with the social media giant to flag sources of Fake News. The account that posted the Trump video appeared to be part of a network of accounts posting fake news stories that share a similar format, namely the text banners and AI-generated voice narration.

Videos from these other accounts have claimed, among other things, that New York Attorney General Letitia James was “rushed to the hospital” after being shot, or that pro-Trump Federal judge Aileen Cannon had been arrested.

Many of these videos were also posted on YouTube, where they were then shared on other platforms like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

2024 is likely to be a banner year for political fake news aided by AI, as an unusually high number of countries are having elections. India is bracing for a deluge of disinformation as its population heads to the polls next month, and questions are resurfacing about the country’s well-intentioned yet unbalanced system for dealing with disinformation while protecting freedom of expression.

Scientific journal retracts article after publishing nonsensical diagrams

An article published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Cell Development Biology had to be retracted by the publisher after diagrams with nonsensical images and text went viral.

One diagram features a rat with an impossibly proportioned phallic member that does not even fit in the borders of the illustration, along with gibberish indications for different parts of its body, including “Testtomcels” and “Dissilced”.

Another diagram appears to illustrate a complex phenomenon at a subcellular level.

To anyone lacking the specialized education needed to understand the illustration, it probably looks sound at first glance. However, the nonsensical text gives away the game here as well, even veering into apparent glyphs outside the English alphabet in some areas.

The publisher, Frontier, has removed the article from its website. A link to a retraction was posted in the article’s place, which states: “The article does not meet the standards of editorial and scientific rigor for Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology; therefore, the article has been retracted.”

This is the latest in a growing series of AI-assisted gaffes in academic publishing, raising questions about whether the peer review process - which is meant to safeguard the quality of published findings - is actually being followed. According to the article page on Frontier’s website, it was received on November 17, 2023 and accepted on December 28, after a review by two fellow researchers from different institutions.