from race-based scoring to stopping migrant flights to Rwanda

The world of information is complex, and fake stories and visuals are often widely shared on social media. Blasting News’ editorial staff spot the most popular hoaxes and misleading stories each week to help you tell right from wrong. Here are this week’s most shared claims, none of them legitimate.


Justin Bieber’s Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Wasn’t Caused by the COVID-19 Vaccine

False assertion: After Justin Bieber announced on Instagram on June 10, 2022 that he had been diagnosed with a rare condition called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome – causing complete paralysis on one side of his face and forcing him to postpone his tour dates worldwide this month – social media users shared the claim that the singer suffered a side effect from COVID-19 vaccines.

Truth :

  • In a statement to Politifact, Curtis Gill, spokesperson for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the agency « did not detect any unusual or unexpected patterns of Ramsay Hunt syndrome after the vaccination that would indicate that COVID-19 vaccines are causing or contributing to this condition.
  • While there’s no official information on whether Bieber took the COVID-19 vaccine, last February the singer was diagnosed with a mild case of the disease, prompting the postponement of a show in Las Vegas.


An Illinois high school failed to introduce a ‘race-based grading system’

False assertion: social media users in the United States shared a post claiming that Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRFHS) in a suburb of Chicago will begin implementing a « race-based grading system ».

Truth :

  • In a statement posted on its website, Oak Park and River Forest High School says it « did not and never intended to classify students differently based on their race. »
  • “The article contains a variety of misleading and inaccurate statements. The mischaracterization of the Board meeting in the article is regrettable and has caused unnecessary confusion,” the statement read.
  • The false claim is based on misreading a series of slides presented at an OPRFHS board meeting on May 26, 2022.
  • The slides, however, make no mention of changes in school performance based on ethnicity or skin color.


The European Union is not responsible for blocking the Rwandan flight carrying asylum seekers

False assertion: Social media users in the UK have shared the claim that the European Union was responsible for blocking the first UK flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda on June 14, 2022.

‘We are not part of the EU so they should keep the big dirty noses out of our decision and our laws here in the UK,’ one of the posts read.

Truth :

  • The cancellation of the flight came after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, France, which is responsible for applying the European Convention on Human Rights to member states of the Council of the Europe.
  • A separate entity from the European Union, the Council of Europe has 46 member states, including the 27 EU members and 19 non-EU countries, including the UK.
  • The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union therefore does not affect the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, nor does it exempt the British government from complying with its judgments.


McDonald’s mistakenly did not include condoms in thousands of Happy Meals

False assertion: social media users in Italy shared the claim that in 2010 McDonald’s mistakenly put condoms instead of toys in more than 5,000 Happy Meals.

Truth :

  • A web search shows the allegation was originally published in June 2010 in an article on the Cap News website.
  • A message at the bottom right of the page states that any content posted on Cap News is satirical.

Latin America/Spain

Prague stores did not ban Ukrainian refugees

False assertion: Social media users in Spain and Latin America have shared images of two stores in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, which allegedly placed a sign in their windows prohibiting entry to Ukrainian citizens. According to the messages, the traders were « fed up with the incessant thefts and the appalling behavior of the refugees ».

Truth :

  • In statements to local TV channel Televize Seznam, the owners of the two stores that appear in the footage circulating on social media denied banning Ukrainians. The images have been digitally manipulated to add the fake sign.
  • “Clients come to see us and I have to explain to everyone that this is a manipulated photo. We never had that sign here. I’m not interested in politics or being banned from entering the store,” said Marcela Abdel, owner of Aries Vitality Textiles.
  • The fake images went viral after being shared on Twitter by Czech newspaper Prague Morning, which later apologized for the mistake with the following message: “We’re sorry. We received the photos in the morning on Facebook from one of our readers, saying they had taken them yesterday afternoon, and we trusted him. Our mistake. »


Muslim cricketer Moeen Ali did not tweet about ‘boycotting India’ following remarks against Prophet Muhammad

False assertion: Social media users in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have shared a screenshot of an alleged tweet from England cricketer Moeen Ali saying he won’t play any more matches in India until the country apologizes for a ruling party politician’s controversial comments about the Prophet Mohammed.

Truth :

  • In recent weeks, a comment by Indian politician Nupur Sharma during a televised debate on the relationship of the Prophet Muhammad with his young wife has sparked a wave of protests by Muslims in several countries in the region.
  • Sharma, a prominent figure in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party, was suspended by his party over the remarks.
  • In a statement to AFP, Jonathan Reed, head of media and publications at the England and Wales Cricket Board, said the account responsible for posting the tweet circulating on the web did not belong to Moeen Ali. “It was a fake account. Moeen has no social media accounts,” he said.
  • A Muslim, Moeen Ali plays for the England national cricket team and Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.


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