Comedian Michael V, also known as “Bitoy,” died after contracting the coronavirus.
At least 4 links contained this claim, with titles like “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 died just now after he was unable to survive COVID-19)” and similar variations.
When these links are clicked, they redirect to randomnames.club or inquirerupdates.ml, pages that have an embedded video and a lot of ads. When the video is played in these sites, it runs for a few seconds, then prompts the viewer to share the link before watching the rest of the video.
These links were flagged by Facebook Claim Check, the platform’s tool for detecting dubious content. The two links with the most views are webpages from gma24orasnews.blogspot.com and gmabreakingnewsupdate.blogspot.com, according to Claim Check.
There are no reports of Michael V’s death as of Tuesday, July 21, and he debunked the claim himself on his social media channels. While these posts are now unavailable, news outlets have reported his response to the false claim.
On July 21, Inquirer.net reported that Michael V refuted the claim in a now-deleted post, saying, “Ingat po tayo sa mga ganito. Gusto ko lang imulat ang mga tao sa dangers ng [COVID-19] pero ibang danger po ang ipi-prisinta n’yo sa pagkalat ng mga ganito (Let’s be careful about things like these. I just wanted to raise awareness about the dangers of COVID-19, but you pose a different danger if you spread this kind of posts).”
The video link in one of the webpages redirects to a YouTube video titled “Goodbye,” uploaded by the channel Sweety Shane.
The 11-second video offers no evidence that the comedian has died. It only shows photos of Michael V, with audio that says, “Kinumpirma ni Michael V sa pamamagitan ng kanyang YouTube channel na nagpositibo siya sa COVID-19. Well-documented ang COVID-19 journey ni Michael V (Michael V confirmed through his YouTube channel that he tested positive for COVID-19. Michael V’s COVID-19 journey is well-documented).” It then cuts off abruptly.
Search results show that this quote was almost totally lifted from a PEP.ph article entitled, “Michael V. tests positive for COVID-19.” The article does not say that he has died.
On another webpage containing the claim, the video link redirects to a video uploaded by GMA News entitled, “24 Oras: Michael V, ibinahaging nagpositibo siya sa COVID-19 (Michael V reveals that he tested positive for COVID-19).” The video report also makes no mention of the actor’s supposed death.
On July 20, Michael V uploaded a video where he talked about his experience in dealing with COVID-19 symptoms. He said that on Saturday, July 18, he received confirmation that he was positive for the virus. (READ: Michael V tests positive for COVID-19)
The site randomnames.club has perpetuated several false claims in the past, including hoaxes that television host Kim Atienza is in critical condition after a house robbery and that actress Bela Padilla was gunned down in her car, among others. – Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com
Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at email@example.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.