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Fact Check-Newspaper headline about a link between sex toys and heart attacks is digitally altered

A screenshot that purportedly shows a Daily Mirror headline reading: “Concerns grow over link between use of sex toys and heart attacks in women” is digitally altered - and the headline was never published by the UK news outlet. However, some people have shared the image as alleged proof that side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are being hidden.

The fake picture was shared on Facebook (here) alongside the caption: “Strange how everything BUT an experimental ‘vax’ with completely unknown, medium to longterm side-effects is to blame for the rash of heart attacks, blood clots and neurological disorders. I have heard climate change, air pollution etc. Now sex toys.....but never the ‘vax’.”

Numerous other iterations of the image have been posted on Facebook (here, here and here) and Twitter (here, here and here), where it has been shared nearly 1,000 times in total.

However, the screenshot is fabricated and was not published by Daily Mirror, a newspaper in Britain. Reuters found no such article published on the Mirror’s website (www.mirror.co.uk/) following an advanced Google search (bit.ly/34LMRpB), but did find an article published at the same time on the same date, which was written by the same author and accompanied by the same image and caption (here). Its headline reads: “12 best Valentine’s Day sex toys: Must-have vibrators and more to gift yourself or your lover.”

Likewise, a Twitter advanced search (bit.ly/3GT5NzO) did not find any proof that the fake article had been posted or shared by the @DailyMirror Twitter account.

A spokesperson for Reach PLC, owners of the Mirror, confirmed the screenshot was fake and was not written by the journalist attributed in the by-line.

They told Reuters via email: “This story was never published on a Reach owned site.”

The altered screenshot also contains a quote that has been falsely attributed to Ann Summers CEO Jacqueline Gold. It reads: “Ann summers CEO Jacqueline gold instructed for warning signs of ‘increased risk of heart attack’ on all 2022 sales of sex toys.”

However, a spokesperson for the company told Reuters via email that the comments were fake.

“These comments did not come from Jacqueline Gold,” they said.

Reuters has previously addressed fake images purporting to show authentic news articles shared online here, here, here, here and here.

VERDICT

Altered. The screenshot purportedly showing a Daily Mirror headline about growing concerns over the link between the use of sex toys and heart attacks in women is digitally altered. Such a headline was never published by the news outlet.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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