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Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu
By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu May 16, 2024

No proof Barbara O’Neill’s cousin ‘was sentenced to life in prison’

If Your Time is short

  • We found no reports that the unnamed cousin of Barbara O’Neill, a naturopath banned from practicing in Australia, received a lifetime prison sentence for revealing purported health secrets.
  • The image in the video was artificially generated.

Barbara O’Neill, a former Australian naturopath, was banned by New South Wales authorities from providing health services in 2019. A viral Facebook video claims one of her relatives has been prosecuted for carrying on that work.

The May 11 video begins with an image of an unnamed woman in an orange jumpsuit standing in a courtroom. The image’s text read, "They are hiding the fact that Barbara O’Neill’s cousin was sentenced to life in prison for revealing these gatekept health secrets."

The video follows with images of plants and nuts along with claims of their natural healing properties. Text on the video directs viewers to a website to buy products including capsules and oils made from the plants.

The Facebook video was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook, Threads, and Instagram.)

Barbara O’Neill is an Australian author whom the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission permanently banned from providing health services in 2019. The commission said O’Neill was unregistered and her advice, which included using baking soda to cure cancer, had "huge potential to have a detrimental effect on the health of individuals."

We found no news reports about O’Neill’s unnamed cousin being sentenced to prison. O’Neill’s active social media accounts have not posted about this. PolitiFact emailed Barbara O’Neill through addresses on her websites but received no answer.

Artificial intelligence generated the image of the unnamed woman in the video. One giveaway is the woman’s missing eyelashes; AI-generated images often lack human features or distort them. A reverse-image search yielded only one news report —  a Lead Stories fact-check  rating the post false. Open-source AI detection tool Content at Scale gave the image a 97% AI-rating.

Screenshot from Facebook

The account that shared the video has a pattern of posting viral claims about other unnamed people being sentenced for revealing supposed health tips. The posts usually feature AI-generated images of unnamed people in orange jumpsuits urging viewers to share the false post and to visit its website.

PolitiFact previously debunked a similar claim about an unnamed cousin of Alfredo "Dr. Sebi" Bowman being ‘sent to life in prison’ for publishing health secrets. Bowman, who promoted controversial diets, died from pneumonia in 2016. His death has been the subject of many conspiracy theories.

We rate the claim that Barbara O’Neill’s cousin was sentenced to life in prison for revealing health secrets False.

RELATED: No proof Dr. Sebi’s cousin was ‘sent to life in prison’

PolitiFact Staff Writer Sara Swann contributed to this report.

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No proof Barbara O’Neill’s cousin ‘was sentenced to life in prison’

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