Fact Check: FAKE Image Of 'Barbara O'Neill's Cousin' On Trial Is AI-Generated; There Was No Such Trial

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: FAKE Image Of 'Barbara O'Neill's Cousin' On Trial Is AI-Generated; There Was No Such Trial Made-Up Story

Does a viral image really show "Barbara O'Neill's cousin" in the courtroom being "sentenced to LIFE IN PRISON"? No, that's not true: It is AI-generated. The claim came from an account with a history of posting inauthentic images under the captions referring to made-up stories.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook by "Divina Vitals" on May 11, 2024. It opened:

I hope they free her... 😣 ❤️‍🩹 #naturalhealing #holistichealth
#healthsecrets #barbaraoneill

The add-on text in the middle of the picture continued:

They are hiding the fact
that Barbara O'Neill's
cousin was sentenced to
revealing these gatekept
health secrets...
share before it's deleted... ❤️‍🩹

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-05-14 at 4.02.55 PM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue May 14 20:02:55 2024 UTC)

The source of the claim was a business advertising (archived here) a supplement website on Facebook while pretending to be a personal account. To amplify this misleading impression, it slightly adjusted the business's name seen in the logo in the profile picture, "Divine Vitals," to "Divina Vitals."

The same account has posted other images of people in orange jumpsuits claiming that they were being put behind bars. However, as Lead Stories previously reported, debunking that here and here, those images were AI-generated.

Screenshot 2024-05-14 at 1.33.22 PM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue May 14 17:33:22 2024 UTC)

The image that is the focus of this fact check had fewer details than older variations of the claim. For example, it did not show the person's hands, which is still one of the items AI sometimes struggles to reproduce in an anatomically correct manner.

The blurred background without specific unique identifiers and the add-on banner in the middle of the image most likely further confused AI-detection tools: More than one failed to identify machine input in this picture.

However, a manual analysis still showed inconsistencies:

Screenshot 2024-05-14 at 2.36.22 PM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue May 14 20:02:55 2024 UTC)

Nothing in the setting could explain why a glowing green halo suddenly appeared above the woman's head in the courtroom.

Her ear lacked an earlobe (archived here) that is typically present in the general population, except for rare cases.

Furthermore, long lashes seen on the side of the face opposing the camera are absent around the eye that is visible.

When Lead Stories retested this fragment on the image in question using Hive Moderation, the AI detection tool concluded that it was not authentic:

Screenshot 2024-05-14 at 1.47.56 PM.png

(Source: Hive Moderation screenshot taken on Tue May 14 17:47:56 2024 UTC)

A reverse image search (archived here) revealed that the "photo" did not appear on any credible websites -- all search results came from social media accounts associated with Divine Vitals.

The herb-selling website promoted by all these accounts stated that it "is founded by people that take natural remedies seriously" who "go above and beyond to ensure our products are the highest of quality," but never disclosed any names of the supposed founders or associates.

The website lacks any basic information about the business; it omitted the company's full name and address. The Terms of service section explicitly referred to the United States but, according to the ICANN lookup tool (archived here), the website was registered in Canada.

Barbara O'Neill is an Australian woman who, despite being an unregistered practitioner (archived here), offered health care services based on false claims. She was banned from practice in New South Wales, Australia, in 2019.

Had the legal action expanded to members of her family, the media would likely have reported that. Using keywords seen here (archived here), Lead Stories search for such news article but found no credible sources publishing anything about "Barbara O'Neill's cousin" ever being on trial.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about AI-generated images can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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