VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Misleading Boracay story gains traffic on social media after being shared by Mocha Uson

An April 23 online story about Boracay shared by Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson on her Facebook page misleads readers with its headline and thumbnail photo.


The story, published on website Good News Network (GNN) Philippines, bore the following headline:

Dahil sa Boracay Clean-up, nadiskubre ng Duterte Gov’t na 2/3 ng 100 tons ng Basura araw-araw ang nai-ipon pala sa Isla (Because of Boracay clean-up activities, the Duterte government discovered that 2/3 of the 100 tons of garbage accumulate in the island everyday)”

Source: Good News Network Philippines

Its thumbnail photo shows an image of a polluted beach:


Both the headline and the thumbnail photo of the GNN Philippines story mislead.

The content is lifted word for word from an April 23 PTV News report, but the headline has been revised.

The headline of the PTV report reads:

“Waste treatment facility urgently needed in Boracay”

Source: PTV News, Waste treatment facility urgently needed in Boracay

Its lead paragraph, which does not support the GNN Philippines headline, reads:

“MANILA — An official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said there is an urgent need to put up a waste treatment facility in Boracay Island and warned that only about a third of the estimated 100 tons of trash generated there daily gets hauled to mainland Aklan for disposal.”

The thumbnail photo used in the GNN Philippines does not appear in the PTV report.

It is a stock photo from 2012 being sold for $12 in the website iStock by Getty Images with the caption:

“Boracay island, Philippines, 22. March 2012 – a polluted Bulabog beach on Boracay island, Philippines. Few small boats and the beach in the background”

Source: iStock by Getty Images, Trash at Philippine beach – Stock image

The photo has been used previously by with the source indicated, and by Mashable with the photo year indicated.

The GNN Philippines report did not provide any indication when and where the photo was taken.

Boracay, a popular tourist destination, is set to be closed to visitors for six months starting today.

Uson generated the biggest traffic for the misleading GNN Philippines story when she shared it April 25 on her Facebook page.

Her post generated 22,706 social media interactions, almost 96 percent of the total 27,719 interactions generated by the story, data from Facebook analytics tool Crowdtangle show.

Uson has more than 5.6 million followers on her Facebook page.

She takes charge of the Palace communications social media office.

Other traffic generators of the misleading GNN Philippines include the Facebook pages President Rodrigo Duterte Facebook Army; TEAM DUTERTE FOR FEDERALISM; CRUELTY OF NOYNOY “ABNOY” AQUINO AND HIS GOVERNMENT; Balitang OFW’s; Pinoy OFW Abroad; and Duterte Diehard Supporters United Kingdom.


PTV News, Waste treatment facility urgently needed in Boracay

iStock Images, Trash at Philippine beach – Stock image, The Ocean’s Great Garbage Patches Might Have Exit Doors

Mashable, Philippines temporarily closes popular holiday island to tourists due to pollution

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)