July 1, 2021

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Magnetic Personalities

3,190 fact checks were added to the CoronavirusFacts Alliance database in the first half of 2021, with fact checks about vaccines dominating the list. The alliance database combines the work of more than 90 fact-checking organizations from more than 70 countries contributing fact checks in more than 40 languages.

In the past month, magnetism has taken center stage when it comes to vaccine falsehoods, with some falsehoods going so far as to claim that vaccinated people are detectable by Bluetooth. PolitiFact and Ukrainian fact-checking outlet VoxCheck debunked this falsehood in May with Myth Detector in Georgia and Teyit in Turkey batting it down in June.

June also saw a continuation of people with advanced degrees using/abusing the societal respect conferred upon their academic achievement to make unfounded claims about COVID-19. Agence France Presse knocked down a claim by one of the “disinformation dozen” about vaccine shedding, which is the false notion that vaccinated people can shed vaccines and vaccinate the unvaccinated (that’s not how vaccines work).

There were also a handful of false claims that used the specter of a prominent anti-vaxxer to gain traction. Aos Fatos and Agência Lupa in Brazil, Maldita.es in Spain, Colombiacheck in Colombia and Animal Politico in Mexico all discovered that Luc Montagnier — a French Nobel laureate who’s made several false claims about COVID-19 — hadn’t claimed that vaccinated people would die in two years. The quote had been fabricated from an interview where Montagnier made a separate false claim that vaccines were creating new COVID-19 variants. That claim is not supported by science.

As travel picks up in the United States and Europe, several fact checks knocked down a falsehood that airlines were considering banning vaccinated passengers. The claims cited rare instances of blood clots on long haul flights and trumped up fears of rare blood clots associated with some of the vaccines to justify the ban. However, fact-checkers in Spain, Poland, Brazil and the United States all found that airlines are encouraging passengers to get vaccinated, not banning them.

Interesting fact-checks

AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File

  • Animal Politico: “Marijuana: What the Court decided and what consumers can do now” (in Spanish)
    • Mexico’s Supreme Judicial Court struck down that country’s criminalization of marijuana, but confusion remains about what the decision actually means. Animal Politico used this explainer to lay out what’s now legal, what’s not, and what are the possible next steps.

Quick hits

File Photo by: zz/STRF/STAR MAX/IPx / AP Photo

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Harrison Mantas is a reporter for the International Fact-Checking Network covering the wide world of misinformation. He previously worked in Arizona and Washington D.C. for…
Harrison Mantas

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