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FACT CHECK: Manipulated video cites Willie Ong’s ‘endorsement’ for hypertension ‘cure’

This is an AI-generated summary, which may contain errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

The hoax video was doctored to make it appear that Dr. Willie Ong, journalist Vicky Morales and actress Toni Gonzaga are endorsing a supposed cure for hypertension.

Say: Cardiologist and online health personality Dr Willie Ong aka Doc Willie endorses a cure for hypertension.

Rating: FALSE

Why we check this: As of this writing, the Facebook post has garnered 84,000 views and 795 reactions.

The video begins with a clip from the GMA News program. 24 hours, which shows journalist Vicky Morales apparently reporting on an effective cure for hypertension supposedly developed by Ong. This is followed by a clip of celebrity Toni Gonzaga interviewing Ong and talking about the supposed cure.

The bottom line: Ong does not endorse the supposed cure for hypertension. The deceptive video consists of doctored clips featuring Ong, Morales and Gonzaga. While their voices were effectively imitated, the mouth movements seemed unnatural.

Sensity, a web tool for detecting AI, found the video “suspicious” with a confidence level of 88.7%.

Sensity noted that a “high confidence” indicates that the detector has identified clear signals of AI generation or manipulation, with a minimum confidence threshold set at 50%. Founded in 2018, Sensity specializes in detecting “deepfakes and other forms of malicious visual media.”

The clip of Gonzaga and Ong was modified from the original video posted on Gonzaga’s YouTube channel in August 2022. The topic was not related to hypertension at all, but rather about the beginnings of Ong’s YouTube channel.

Management of hypertension: According to the American Medical Association, there is no cure for high blood pressure or hypertension, but lifestyle changes and blood pressure-lowering medications can help control it.

AI disinformation: In a 2023 report, human rights advocacy group Freedom House said that artificial intelligence has facilitated the spread of disinformation online. “Disinformation purveyors are employing AI-generated images, audio and text, making the truth easier to distort and harder to discern,” the group said.

False medical endorsements of Ong have been circulating on social media, with some using artificial intelligence tools to manipulate videos and images. Ong has repeatedly debunked these false ads, telling Rappler that the only product he and his wife Liza endorse is Birch Tree Advance, a nutritional milk for seniors.

Rappler has verified similar claims about Ong:

Andrei Santos/Rappler.com

Andrei Santos graduated from Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Please keep us informed about suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles or photos on your network by contacting us at [email protected]. You can also report questionable claims to #FactsFirstPH information line by courier Rappler on Facebook either News via Twitter direct message. You can also report through our Viber Fact Check Chatbot. Let’s fight against misinformation Fact Check at once.

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