Fact checks on AI-generated content

FACT CHECK: Image of PCG ship armed with ‘fire cannons’ is AI-generated


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FACT CHECK: Image of PCG ship armed with ‘fire cannons’ is AI-generated
Artificial intelligence detection tools rate the image as ‘highly likely to be AI-generated,’ scoring over 80%

Claim: An image shows a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship equipped with a cannon spewing fire.

Rating: SATIRE

Why we fact-checked this: The TikTok video was posted on May 7 by an account with 5,538 followers. As of writing, it has gained 179,300 views, 1,852 likes, and 86 shares.

The video shows an image of a supposed PCG vessel accompanied by the text: “The Philippine Coast Guard ship was equipped with a fire cannon. Kaya pala ayaw ni PBBM palagyan ng water cannon. Ito pala ang kagila-gilalas na plano niya. Napakatalino talaga ng Presidente natin! (So this is why [President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] doesn’t want to install a water cannon. This is his amazing plan. Our President is really smart!)”

The bottom line: It is highly likely that the image is AI-generated and the video is meant to be a joke, based on some of the comments under the TikTok post. 

Artificial intelligence detector Hugging Face flagged the image as 99% likely to be AI art while Is It AI? rated the image as 88% likely to be AI-generated. 

The image contains hallmarks of generative AI, including distorted letters on the ship’s name and warped dimensions of other image elements like the supposed fire cannon.


Maritime tensions: The video was posted following reports that Chinese ships used water cannons against PCG vessels in Bajo de Masinloc on April 30

Tensions between the Philippines and China have heightened recently as Beijing continues to assert its claim on almost the entire South China Sea despite a 2016 ruling invalidating these sweeping claims. (READ: EXPLAINER | South China Sea: Why are China and Philippines tensions heating up?)

PCG modernization plan: In response to Chinese aggression against Philippine vessels, Marcos said that he does not intend to equip PCG vessels with water cannons following China’s example as the Philippine government aims to “lower tensions.”

“We have no intention of attacking anyone with water cannons or any other such offensive,” the President said.

Instead, the Philippines will strengthen its maritime capabilities through modernization efforts and synchronizing policies and strategies to bolster maritime security.

In October 2023, Marcos announced that the PCG was set to acquire 40 patrol vessels to strengthen its capabilities in defending the country’s maritime domain. Later in May 2024, Manila announced that it would purchase five more 97-meter patrol ships from Japan. The acquisition of the vessels and development of support facilities are valued at over 64.38 billion yen (around P23.85 billion).

Rappler has published fact-checks on the South China Sea issue and the PCG:

– Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com

Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of 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.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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