Claim: The mother of singer and actress Sarah Geronimo supposedly “took her own life” in reaction to Sarah’s civil marriage to actor Mateo Guidicelli on Friday, February 21.
The website h0t.m0rningnewst0day.xyz posted a story with the headline, “lna ng Aktres, Singer na si Sarah Geronimo, Nagpakamatay Matapos Di Matanggap Ang Pagpapakasal ni Sarah” (Mother of actress, singer Sarah Geronimo takes own life after she couldn’t accept Sarah’s marriage). Geronimo’s surname was actually spelled “Ger0nim0” in the headline.
The story only has a video thumbnail showing a picture of Sarah and Divine beside another picture of Sarah crying while being hugged by someone else. However, the video itself is not embedded. Users would have to click the thumbnail to watch the video in another page.
A YouTube video being shared on Facebook also separately carried a similar headline and the same video thumbnail.
Facebook’s Claim Check dashboard flagged this claim for verification.
The facts: There are no reports from credible news organizations and no statements from Sarah Geronimo or family members to back up this claim at the time it was shared online.
When users click the video thumbnail in the story from h0t.m0rningnewst0day.xyz, it redirects to another suspicious website, t0nlghtgl0balnews.hytactv.info. After clicking the thumbnail again on the new page, only the first few seconds of the video play, after which users are instructed to share the article first before watching the rest of the video.
The embedded video is only a 5-second clip entitled “sarah,” uploaded by the channel Latest Trending on YouTube on February 23. It maliciously used the first 3 seconds of GMA News’ Balitanghali news report on September 19, 2014 about an entirely different death, that of the mother of actress Cherry Pie Picache.
After the news anchor says, “Natagpuang patay sa loob ng kanyang bahay ang ina ng [aktres]…” (Found dead inside her home was the mother of [actress]…), it abruptly cuts to the same video thumbnail of Sarah and Divine Geronimo used by the suspicious websites.
The two websites themselves are suspicious, because their “home pages” contain only a GIF image of a snake and some text in Ilocano. According to Facebook’s Claim Check dashboard, there are other suspicious websites and domains that carry this death hoax.
The YouTube channel Latest Trending had also published a video about the “death” of Kobe Bryant’s daughter Natalia. Rappler rated this supposed death as false on February 21.
Meanwhile, the other YouTube video that carried the same claim was uploaded by user agdan yonaperdi on February 22, but it was blocked and unavailable as of writing. “This video contains content from GMA Network Inc, who has blocked it on copyright grounds,” said the warning placed by YouTube on this video.
Readers are encouraged not to click, read, or share these dubious “death” articles from suspicious websites and sources. Sensitive topics like deaths – especially of public personalities – should be supported by valid news reports, which verify such information through official sources like family members or the police. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com
Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.