NO REAL NEWS: a look at what went wrong this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely bogus stories and visuals of the week.

None of these are legitimate, even though they have been shared widely on social media. The Associated Press verified them.

Here are the facts:


CLAIM: Pfizer admits in its COVID-19 clinical trial protocol that vaccinated people can “spread” the vaccine, emitting substances that can be spread to unvaccinated people through inhalation or through skin contact.

FACTS: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine does not spread person-to-person, and the company has not admitted such a thing either.

“The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is a synthetic mRNA vaccine and does not contain any virus particles. Since there is no virus produced in the body, no excretion occurs in the human body,” Jerica said. Pitts, spokesperson for Pfizer, at The Associated Press. an email. “The vaccine cannot be inhaled by excretion and can only enter the human body through an administered dose.”

The United States Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s vaccine in December after extensive clinical trials. Pregnant or breastfeeding women were excluded from these early clinical studies and participants were urged to take steps to avoid pregnancy.

Fake social media posts now misinterpret part of Pfizer’s November clinical trial protocol that used standard language intended to protect pregnant women and monitor any potential exposure. Messages distort meaning to promote the false theory that a vaccinated person may get rid of the vaccine or cause suspected side effects in another person.

The Pfizer document states that any exposure during pregnancy should be reported and defines these cases broadly to include cases where a pregnant woman is exposed to the vaccine “by inhalation or through skin contact” or if a man who has received the vaccine. vaccine or been exposed to it “then exposes his female partner before or around the time of conception.”

Dr Justin Brandt, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said the language is “of great significance in protecting pregnant women” and is relevant to certain other vaccines containing viruses, which Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine does not.

Dr Shobha Swaminathan, associate professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, called the language of the document “generic” intended to cover cases of “any potential exposure, including possible accidental exposures.” Swaminathan said “exposure” by inhalation or skin contact could refer to incidents where a pregnant woman was near a syringe of the product that accidentally broke. But in the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the degree to which the vaccine spill is absorbed on your skin “is likely to be negligible or even nonexistent,” Swaminathan said.

Regarding the document’s guidelines requiring notification if a vaccinated man potentially exposes a woman “at the time of conception,” Swaminathan said the language is intended to gather information about any type of exposure before the risks are not known.

“Initially, you might not know if any of the vaccines actually enter the semen if any of the sperm are affected,” Swaminathan said. At this point in the research, however, she said, “We know it doesn’t affect fertility at all.”

– Associated Press writer Arijeta Lajka in New York contributed to this report.


CLAIM: Air traffic maps show a government spy plane flew over the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix to monitor an audit of Maricopa County ballots taking place there.

FACTS: Air traffic maps show an airplane flying in the Phoenix area near the site of a unprecedented counting of ballots November elections. But the Phoenix Police Department confirmed that it was the department’s plane conducting independent law enforcement affairs.

“We have nothing, nothing, nothing to do with it,” Maggie Cox, the department’s public information sergeant, told the AP.

Ministry planes are called in for a lot of things, Cox said, but election verification is not one of them. On one of the flights, the plane was helping police deal with a stolen vehicle case, Cox said.

The false surveillance statement has circulated on websites that have previously disseminated election-related conspiracy theories. Their stories featured images of air traffic maps showing a Pilatus PC-12 / 47E aircraft flying in the Phoenix area, west of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Some of the stories pointed out that the Phoenix Police Department owns a plane with this description, which has led to false speculation that law enforcement may be monitoring the stadium.

The recount in Maricopa County has been controversial. Cyber ​​Ninjas, the company that the Arizona Republican-led state Senate hired to conduct the audit, initially refused to publish its policies and procedures for manually recounting the 2.1 million ballots in the county. Arizona’s most populous.

Joe Biden won Arizona by nearly 10,500 votes and Maricopa County by just over 45,000 votes.

– Associated Press writer Ali Swenson in Seattle contributed to this report.


CLAIM: Amazon and Dogecoin have reached an agreement for Amazon to accept Dogecoin on its site.

FACTS: Amazon has confirmed that it does not take any cryptocurrency as payment for its products, and no deal has been reached with Dogecoin. However, third-party apps can purchase Amazon gift cards on behalf of the customer by exchanging cryptocurrencies for government-issued currencies.

When two software developers launched Dogecoin cryptocurrency in 2013, it was created as a joke. For most of its seven-year history, each Dogecoin was worth less than a percentage of a cent. In May, however, the cryptocurrency peaked at 66 cents.

Digital currencies have risen in value over the past 18 months as more businesses accepted them as a means of payment, the AP reported. As part of this increase in adoption, misinformation has spread online about companies accepting cryptocurrency.

A post on Facebook falsely claimed that “AMAZON NOW ACCEPTS DOGECOIN !!!!”


In an email asking if Amazon currently accepts Dogecoin or any cryptocurrency as a payment method, Amazon spokesperson Nell Rona said: “No.”

Ross Nicoll, one of the main developers who operates Dogecoin, also confirmed in an email that Amazon and Dogecoin have not discussed the use of the cryptocurrency on the site.

Confusing is that a small number of third-party apps that handle cryptocurrency act as intermediaries for consumers who want to shop online.

“Customers can purchase Amazon gift cards using Bitcoin from a small number of authorized resellers,” Rona said in an email.

One such reseller is BitPay, which announced on Tuesday that it is now making it easier to use Dogecoin to buy gift cards on sites like Amazon. But that still doesn’t mean that Amazon accepts cryptocurrency on its site.

Amazon receives government issued currency when BitPay purchases gift cards on behalf of the customer.

“BitPay’s Chrome browser extension allows users to turn crypto into gift cards for use on the merchant’s site,” Jan Jahosky, a BitPay spokesperson, told the AP in an email. .

– Associated Press editor Terrence Fraser in New York contributed to this report.


CLAIM: Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit jockey John Velazquez declined an invitation to the White House, saying if he wanted to see a horse behind he would have come in second place.

FACTS: After the dark brown colt Medina Spirit and the jockey John Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby half-length, a fake quote attributed to Velazquez began circulating on social networks.

“BREAKING NEWS,” wrote a Facebook user in a post shared more than 6,000 times. Derby Medina Spirit winner jockey John Velazquez turned down an invitation from the White House today saying: ‘If I wanted to see a horse’s ass, I would have come second. “”

Ron Anderson, Velazquez’s agent, confirmed to The Associated Press that the message was inaccurate. The jockey has not been invited to the White House, Anderson confirmed.

“It’s ridiculous,” Anderson told the AP on a phone call. “In a million, millions of years, Johnny wouldn’t say that about anything or anyone.”

An internet search did not reveal any legitimate source for the quote, which has been circulating for years around the Kentucky Derby in reference to various jockeys and horses, even sometimes by the same Twitter users in different years.

In 2018, Reddit users joked that the quote was from the winning horse, To justify.

– Ali Swenson

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