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New dubious FB page mispresents Ong couple as product endorsers

A newly created Facebook page has been passing itself off as the official fanpage of cardiologist Willie Ong and his physician wife Liza and sells an unregistered barley powder drink and dried fruit products.

The imposter page was created on Dec. 27, calls itself “Doc Willing Ong 0fficial” and uses a grayscale photo of Ong for its profile picture to which it inserted a fake Facebook verified badge or blue checkmark. 

The page’s introduction reads:

989,655 na tao ang nag-rate nito
Ito ang opisyal na Fanpage ng Doc Willie & Lizza Ong upang suportahan ang lahat ng impormasyon ng lahat ng nangangailangan ng tulong (989,655 people rated this. This is the official Fanpage of Doc Willie & Lizza Ong to support all information for all who need help).

It misspells Liza Ong’s first name as “Lizza.” Upon further checking, the profile reveals the two-week-old page is “Not yet rated,” having received zero reviews.

Facebook’s verified badge confirms that an account is “the authentic presence for that person or brand,” as stated in Facebook’s Help Center. It is located at the end of a page’s name, not inside the profile picture. 

Facebook’s verified badge on Ong’s official page is located at the end of the name, “Doc Willie Ong.” Ong’s page was created Sept. 2013 and has 17 million followers. The imposter page has 85 followers.

Using its fake status as the Ong couple’s official fanpage, Doc Willie Ong 0fficial posts edited images of the Ongs to promote and sell non-Food and Drug Administration-approved products.

Its sponsored Dec. 28 post superimposed the “Navitas Pure Organic Barley” product and a promotion sign to a 2019 photo of Ong to make it seem like the cardiologist is holding them. The sign says:

162₱50% OFF

A reverse image search shows that the original photo was first featured in a 2019 article by Abante Tonite.

Another Dec. 28 post featuring a clip taken from a July 2019 video from Ong’s official Facebook page was edited to suggest that Ong was drinking the barley product.

In the original video, where Ong talked about the benefits of drinking chamomile tea, the doctor was holding a glass containing a faint brown liquid. The glass’ content was edited to have a darker green color, similar to the color of barley.

The video also misrepresented licensed physician Kilimanjaro Tiwaquen, also known as Dr. Kilimanguru across social media, as endorsing their product.

In a Sept. 8 TikTok video, Kilimanjaro cleared that he does not endorse the barley powder.

The misleading Facebook page also sells the product, “Revita Fruit Dried Chewy,” which it featured in another erroneous Dec. 28 post.

FDA’s online verification portal shows that the products “Navitas Pure Organic Barley” and “Revita Fruit Dried Chewy” do not have certificates of product registration with the agency.

The misleading posts include links to two websites where potential customers can buy the non-FDA-approved products with various promos and discounts after supplying their personal information.

In addition to Ong, who is frequently falsely represented as an endorser of various products, images of other celebrities have been manipulated to suggest that they endorse the barley drink.

These have been debunked by various fact-checking bodies:

Ong clarified in an April 2023 Facebook post that Birch Tree Advance is the only product he endorses. He said that it was a charity advocacy for seniors.

The misleading Facebook page has cumulatively garnered 3,826 reactions, 991 comments and 89 shares as of writing. (KF)


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