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Old photos circulated in false Facebook posts about ‘gold bars seized in Vatican City’

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Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

Five photos have been shared repeatedly in multiple Facebook posts in February 2021 alongside they show gold bars “confiscated” from an underground safe in Vatican City. The claim is false: the photos have circulated online in articles about gold bars in various countries since at least 2010. As of March 3, 2021, there have been no credible reports of gold bars being seized from Vatican City in February 2021.

The photos were here on Facebook on February 19, 2021.

“Gold bars confiscated from the vault in the Vatican — the amount can be loaded on 700 aeroplanes,” reads the Korean-language text superimposed on the image.

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on March 3, 2021

The post’s caption translates as: “After ‘praying’, all cash is collected and gathered in the Vatican. And that cash is saved in the form of gold bars underground.”

The same have been shared on Facebook here, here and here alongside a similar claim.

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The claim is false. 

There have been no credible media reports of a recent gold heist at the Vatican. As of March 3, 2021, there has also been no mention of any such incident in the Vatican’s daily news bulletins from 2021.

Bank of England photo

Two images that show gold bars stacked on shelves were, in fact, taken at gold vaults in the Bank of England (BoE).

The first image on the top left was published here on the BoE website.

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Screenshot of the BoE website, taken on February 22, 2021.

The second image was published here by Bloomberg on August 23, 2020.

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The photo’s caption, which includes a credit to BoE, reads: “Gold bullion in the vaults at the Bank of England.”

Screenshot of the Bloomberg article, captured on March 3, 2021.

Hungary gold

The photo in the bottom left-hand corner, which shows gold bars wrapped in green string, can be seen in this press release published by Hungary’s national bank Magyar Nemzeti Bank on October 16, 2018. 

“With the long-term national and economic strategic goals in mind, the Monetary Council of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank decided to significantly increase the country’s gold reserves,” the statement reads.

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Screenshot of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank website, taken on February 22, 2021.

Unrelated photos

The other two photos were taken from old, unrelated reports.

The image shown in the top right-hand corner of the post showing gold bars stacked on wooden shelves has appeared in news reports since at least 2010.

The image appeared in a GhanaWeb article published on August 15, 2010. It reports that gold exported from Ghana to the United Arab Emirates was found to be fake.

The image of gold stacks in the bottom right-hand corner of the misleading Facebook post is also an old photo that has circulated online since at least 2016.

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The photo was published here by Croatian online newspaper Index.hr on October 3, 2016.

Screenshot of the website of Index.hr, captured on February 22, 2021.

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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