Fact check: Vaccine-related misinformation about Trudeau, tennis players and microchips swirls on social media

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Here are the facts around some of the many misrepresentations circulating in January.

Several social media posts claim that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted messages on Facebook encouraging people not to interact with unvaccinated people.

A Tweeter January 31 includes a screenshot of a post purportedly from Trudeau that reads, “Please help do your part to make this shutdown: If you have family or friends who still haven’t been vaccinated, don’t allow them to have dinner with the family, don’t talk to them on the phone, don’t answer their text messages, you must do everything to make life difficult for them until they comply.
The tweet was shared amid international media coverage of a protest by a group of Canadian truckers and others opposed to vaccination mandates, Covid-19 restrictions and the Trudeau government.

The facts first: The Facebook post in the screenshot is fake. Trudeau hasn’t posted any messages encouraging anyone to make life difficult for the unvaccinated.

Representatives from Trudeau’s office told CNN that “that’s not our job.”

CNN’s reviewers on Trudeau’s official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts found no posts containing the viral screenshot material, or any other Trudeau language asking people not to speak or text unvaccinated family members.

Twitter flagged one of the posts in the fake screenshot as containing manipulated media. Both Associated press and Reuters also checked the facts.

A misrepresentation about Microsoft and microchips

A January 16 Tweeter, which has earned more than 1,200 likes, falsely claims Microsoft is testing a chip to hold vaccine information that would be implanted in a person’s skin. He says “human trials will begin in July on a microchip implant smaller than a pinhead that will contain your reminder status and other information to allow quick and easy access to things like stores and events”.
Originally posted by a Twitter Account parodying British MP Matt Hancock, a Tory who previously served as the country’s health and social care secretary, a screenshot of the tweet was also posted on Facebook. Although the original poster bio clearly indicates that this is a parody account, some users who interact with the tweet and its screenshots take its content seriously.

The facts first: It’s wrong. Microsoft does not test any microchip technology on humans.

A Microsoft spokesperson told CNN the company “does not conduct human trials of microchip implants.”

The message has already been verified by United States today.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has been the subject of misinformation linking skin-implanted microchips to Covid-19 vaccines. In June 2020, complaints distributed on social media that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, a favorite subject of conspiracy theories, would seek to chip individuals when they received the vaccine. At the time, vaccines were still under development and none had been cleared for emergency use. Demand by reporters about the false theory in June 2020, Gates said that “it’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or weird”.

A false claim about vaccinated tennis players and the Australian Open

The 2022 Australian Open tennis tournament was the subject of coronavirus-related controversy when the Australian government prevented world No. 1 player Novak Djokovic from taking part because he was not vaccinated. This has included misinformation about players who have been vaccinated.
Articles and posts on Twitter circulated the claim that three tennis players – Nikoloz Basilashvili, Dalila Jakupovic and Nick Kyrgios – were forced to drop out of the tournament due to respiratory issues, which some reports said was due to the fact that they had received Covid-19 vaccines.
A story published on January 10 by Free West Media, for example, claimed that Jakupovic was “forced to withdraw from her match after falling to the ground”. These claims were later taken up by users on Twitter.
The facts first: Claims that these three players dropped out of the Australian Open are false. Jakupovic never even entered the tournament, while Basilashvili and Kyrgios were knocked out by opponents. The Free West Media article used a quote about Jakupovic falling to his knees during a match in Australia in January 2020 – even before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic and long before vaccines were even available. It was taken from media coverage of an incident that occurred while she was in the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open 2020. While playing in poor air quality from smoke from the bushfires, Jakupovic fell to her knees on the pitch.
Basilashvili was defeated by Andy Murray in a match on January 12, and Kyrgios lost to Daniil Medvedev on January 20. Both of their losses came days after the Free West Media article claimed they had dropped out of the Open.
While Basilashvili suffered some breathing problems during a Jan. 5 ATP Cup match in Sydney, and Kyrgios tested positive for Covid-19 a week before the Open, there is no evidence to suggest vaccines contributed to their breathing difficulties .

Free West Media did not respond to a request for comment.

This claim has already been verified by The Dispatch.

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