Art doll

from pregnant Ken doll to homophobic billboard in Qatar, host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

The world of information is complex – and fake stories and images 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 some of the most shared misrepresentations from this week, none of which are legit.

World

Mattel didn’t release a pregnant Ken doll

False declaration: Social media users around the world have shared the claim that toymaker Mattel has released a pregnant Ken doll. Some posts are accompanied by a video that would show a TV ad for the new product.

Truth:

  • In statements to the press, the toy company said that “a pregnant male doll is not a Mattel product.”
  • A reverse image search shows the video circulating on social media was originally posted by satirical site Babylon Bee on May 10.
  • On its “about us” page, Babylon Bee describes itself as “the best satire site in the world, completely infallible in all its claims of truth”.

UNITED STATES

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have not divorced

False declaration: Social media users in the US have shared the claim that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, have divorced.

A video accompanying the posts claims, “Harry is back in England while Meghan remains in the US with the couple’s two children.”

Truth:

  • The video shared on social media, highly critical of the Duchess, attributes her claims to “anonymous sources” and adds the following caveat: “The signing of Harry and Meghan’s divorce papers is only a rumor in the media. The royal couple has not yet been confirmed.
  • In fact, there is no official statement from the couple or any record in the mainstream media that Harry and Meghan signed the divorce papers.

UK

Photo of Harry Styles wearing obscene Tory t-shirt doctored

False declaration: Social media users in the UK have shared a photo which allegedly shows English singer Harry Styles wearing a t-shirt with the phrase ‘all tories are cun**’ written on the front.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows the original photo was taken in November 2014, when Harry, still a member of One Direction, was walking out of a nightclub in Los Angeles.
  • It is possible to see on the original photo that the artist wears a black t-shirt on which nothing is written.
  • The text that appears on the image shared on social networks has therefore been added digitally.

Latin America

The image showing Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro next to Pablo Escobar is fake

False declaration: Social media users in Latin America have shared a black and white photo that allegedly shows Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro standing next to notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a shooting in 1993.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that in the original image, posted to Facebook by Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, known as Popeye and Escobar’s former right-hand man, the person appearing next to the Medellin Cartel leader was not Gustavo Petro.
  • Petro’s face was digitally added to the image from a photo of him next to Venezuelan presidential candidate Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) taken by the Colombian news agency Colprensa in July 1994 in Bogotá.

Brazil

The homophobic billboard that has gone viral is not in Qatar, host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

False declaration: Social media users in Brazil shared a photo of an anti-LGBTQIA+ billboard that shows a man and woman protecting two children from a rainbow, along with the claim that l he image was reportedly taken in Qatar as part of the country’s preparations to host this year’s FIFA World Cup.

Truth:

  • A reverse image search shows that the billboard was actually installed at the Al Hedaya Islamic Center in the city of Riffa in Bahrain, an absolutist monarchy that has anti-LGBTQIA+ laws.
  • According to an article published by local newspaper Gulf Daily News Online on June 13, 2022, the billboard is part of a joint campaign by several Islamic entities in the country against LGBTQIA+ pride month.
  • The same image was posted on June 7 on the Al Hedaya Islamic Center’s Twitter account, along with a caption saying that Islamic law serves as a “fortified shield against such abnormal and contrary to natural instinct thoughts.”
  • Although Qatar also has anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, in a recent interview with the Associated Press, Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari, a senior security official for the World Cup, insisted that couples LGBTQIA+ would be welcome and accepted in the country during the event.
  • However, Al Ansari admitted that rainbow flags could be removed from supporters at the World Cup to, he says, protect them from attack.

Africa

South Africa does not plan to launch R500 note and R10 coin

False declaration: Social media users in South Africa have shared images showing a new 500 rand banknote and a new 10 rand coin allegedly issued by the country’s Reserve Bank.

“It’s a sign that the Rand is losing value, inflation is hitting hard. Notes like R200 down are losing value. Prices of things are going up. Soon we’ll be buying a loaf of bread at R150.00 reads the caption of some posts.

Truth:

  • The first sign that the 500 rand note is not authentic is the absence of the image of former President Nelson Mandela, included since 2005 by the Reserve Bank in the design of all South African banknotes.
  • A reverse image search shows that the shared image of Bill R500 has been circulating the web since 2008, when it was uploaded to the DeviantArt design platform by a user called SouthernDesigner.
  • In the description of the image, the user indicates that the ticket was created for a competition organized by the South African Reserve Bank.
  • The R10 coin, in turn, is a commemorative gold coin issued by the South African Mint in 2003.
  • The rumor spread on social media after a fake South African Reserve Bank Twitter account announced the launch of the new note and coin on June 10.
  • The South African Central Bank’s verified Twitter account later posted the following message refuting the allegation: “Please note this is a fake account and has been reported to Twitter. SA Reserve Bank does not plan to issue an R10 coin or an R500 note.

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