Ukraine: video games hijacked to spread fake news

Since Thursday, images of the war in Ukraine have flooded social networks. But some videos are far from authentic. Video games like Arma III and War Thunder have even been hijacked to spread false information.

Image 1: Ukraine: video games hijacked to spread fake newsAn image of ArmA III used to spread false information about the war in Ukraine – Credit: Bohemia Interactive

In our contemporary era, conflicts develop on several fronts. In the military field of course: Russia has notably massively deployed its troops in Ukraine, bombing cities and military infrastructure. But the war is also raging on social networks through the sharing of information and videos. Some sequences are totally authentic. These come in particular from journalists in the field or from witnesses and are cross-checked by the media and fact-checkers.

Other videos, however, are completely false, seeking to sway opinion in favor of one side or the other. They can also be the work of trolls who have fun misleading Internet users by spreading grotesque fake news.

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War in Ukraine: War thunder and Arma III used in fake news

On Twitter and Facebook, a sequence was notably shared massively. In legend, it is indicated that it shows the Ukrainian army shooting at a Russian plane which manages to extricate itself narrowly. However, this sequence was not shot in Ukraine. It comes from the video game Arma III, released in 2013. This rather realistic military simulation had already been diverted to document other conflicts such as the war in Syria.

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In addition, an impressive video showing a rain of missiles launched during the night was also massively relayed and commented on. Problem, this one is taken from the game War Thunder and therefore has nothing real. Just take a quick trip to YouTube to be sure:

Always be wary of content shared on social media. To avoid being tricked and sharing false information, there are several best practices. In particular, favor content from official accounts of journalists or media (even if the latter can also be wrong). If you have any doubts, do not hesitate to read the comments which will sometimes denounce possible fakes. You can also do a reverse Google search to check that a photo or video hasn’t already been posted. This tool from Amnesty International is particularly very practical.

Outside of social networks, the conflict in Ukraine is also turning into cyberwar, with Kiev having notably urged hackers to join its ranks in the face of Russian malware.

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