Did Dr. Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and former Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, endorse blood vessel-cleaning gummies? No, that's not true: A spokesperson for Carson said that the claim is "completely fake." Additionally, a digital forensics and deepfakes website that analyzes audio and other media concluded that a recording purporting to show him saying that was not authentic.
The claim appeared in a post and video (archived here) published on Facebook by Makeover BY Rimzim on December 20, 2023, under the title "To get your blood pressure to 120/80 at any age, stop drinking chemicals and start cleaning your blood vessels!" The post's caption said:
Dr. Ben Carson discovered 3 completely natural ingredients, and as a result, blood pressure disappeared forever. Headaches go away, blood cholesterol levels decrease, and symptoms caused by increased blood pressure disappear.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Dec 21 13:54:06 2023 UTC)
A Google News search (archived here) on December 21, 2023, using the terms "Dr. Ben Carson discovered 3 completely natural ingredients, and as a result, blood pressure disappeared forever," found no results matching the claim in the post and video.
What it did find was a December 18, 2023, Lead Stories fact check that included a social media post that used the same wording but used Dr. Mehmet Oz as a purported endorser, a supposed endorsement that an Oz representative denied. A screenshot of the other social media post (archived here) appears below:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Dec 21 18:48:28 2023 UTC)
What the posts have in common, in addition to their wording, is that they link to fake web pages -- one masquerading as a respected science journal (archived here) and the other as a news website (archived here). The URLs for each do not match the legitimate websites for either -- nature.com or nbcnews.com. Both posts include links to purported interviews with the respective doctors. Ultimately, each post links to a website selling CBD gummies (here and here).
Brad Bishop, a spokesman for Carson, provided the former secretary's response in a December 21, 2023, email. He said:
No, that is not Dr. Carson's voice and no, he has not endorsed or ever heard of this product. That is completely fake.
To additionally verify the authenticity of the audio linked to the video clip, Lead Stories ran the sound from the Facebook post through an online tool called the DeepFake-o-meter (archived here), hosted by The University of Buffalo's Media Forensic Lab, which focuses on the forensic analysis of digital media. The website says it uses "deepfake detection methods" to analyze sound, images and video and then weighs in on the media's likelihood of being fake.
Lead Stories stripped the audio from the Carson video file as an MP3 and then uploaded it to the deepfake tool. The DeepFake-o-meter's analysis concluded (archived here) that "There is no chance that sample is real," giving it a 99.999 percent "Fake Probability."
A screenshot of the website appears below, followed by a screenshot of the emailed detection report sent to Lead Stories on December 21, 2023:
(Source: DeepFake-o-meter website screenshot taken on Thu Dec 21 17:05:09 2023 UTC)
DeepFake-o-meter Detection Report:
(Source: Detection Report screenshot from Lead Stories email taken on Thu Dec 21 2023 UTC)
Another clue that the video is a deepfake: There's a significant mismatch between the lip movements of Carson in the video and what he's saying.
Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims involving Dr. Ben Carson can be found here.
Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims related to deepfakes can be found here.