VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Michael V. is ALIVE

Shortly after comedian Michael V., also known as Bitoy, announced on July 20 that he tested positive for COVID-19, a site with a history of publishing death hoaxes posted a video claiming he has passed away.

The GMA Network talent has debunked the hoax in his social media accounts according to several news reports. A screenshot of Bitoy’s now-deleted Twitter post is shown in GMA’s article.

An imposter site named gma24orasnews.blogspot.com has posted the viral video which redirects to at least two web pages of the domain randomnames.club.

Each web page carries two different video clips but has the same headline: “BREAKING NEWS:Aktor na si Michael V o BITOY ay Pumanaw na Kanina lamang Matapos Hindi Malampasan ang Sakit na C0VlD19 (Breaking news: Actor Michael V or Bitoy just passed away because of COVID-19).”

On the first web page, a four-second video clip is featured, but it is not a report on Bitoy’s supposed death; it’s from a July 20 episode of GMA’s 24 Oras, where news anchor Nelson Canlas reported the content of the comedian’s vlog on YouTube, documenting his experience contracting the novel coronavirus.

A 12-second video embedded from a YouTube channel named Sweety Shane is found on the second web page. It spliced two images of Bitoy with a voice over that did not mention anything about the comedian’s passing. Sweety Shane appears to be a new channel; it only contains this video uploaded before noon of July 21.

Elements present in this fakery are identical to other hoaxes debunked by

VERA Files Fact Check in the past -- a seconds-long video is placed in a YouTube-like layout surrounded by nothing but advertisements. The clip suddenly stops, then invites viewers to share it on Facebook (FB) to be able to continue watching.

The most recent hoax with a similar modus operandi is the sham claim that American actor Robert Downey Jr. has died. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Imposter ‘BBC, ABS-CBN’ FB page posts death HOAX on Ironman star)

Website randomnames.club was created in September 2019. The Bitoy hoax could have reached 9.7 million netizens, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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