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False And Fake News Regarding War In Ukraine Is Spreading Like Wildfire On Social Media

The US, UK, and Ukraine have called on social media companies to remove material circulating false reports and fake news concerning the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The false reports and fake news are drumming up millions of likes, follows, subscribers, re-tweets, and more as naive users watch what looks to be real time video.

In actuality, the footage circulating in videos is often older broadcasts, news concerning the war in the Donbas Region between 2014-2022 before Russia invaded, and downright forged and crewed videos meant to convey the war Ukraine.

Here are some of the 7 categories users use to mislead people regarding the war in Ukraine:

(1)Fake Live-Streams:

Since the war began in February, fake live-streams have drew in millions of users, getting some of the highest view counts on TikTok and Twitter.

The poster finds a dramatic video from the old conflict in Donbas or military drill, dubs in fake audio of a loud explosion or gunfire, starts a live-stream, and the when millions tune in ask for donations.

One royalty free audio sample of gunfire became so wide spread that it has appeared in 13,000 fake videos concerning Ukraine.

(2)Video Games:

Combat footage from video games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have been often seen used as false footage from the real battlefield.

Famously, Arma 3 game-play was passed off as IRL fighting for over a month before someone spotted it and got it taken down.

(3)Movies And TV Shows:

Battle scenes from a variety of movies and TV shows have circulated the web being passed off as war footage.

Some clips cam from popular shows and movies like White Tiger, Top Gun, Black Hawk Down, and M*A*S*H.

Often the scenes in question are edited with photo-shop and CGI to convey that it's real.

(4)Old Videos From The Donbas Conflict (2014-2022):

After Russia illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol in 2014, separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk began an open war of rebellion in the Donbas Region of Ukraine that sits on Russia's border.

Body camera footage, news reports, and home videos from the conflict have been circulating among real Russo-Ukrainian War footage in both legitimate and fraudulent news circles.

Various pieces of old media generated from the 9 year long conflict has been re-branded as new reports coming from the current war in Ukraine, including sniper duels and tank battles.

A video showing a column of Ukrainian tanks and armored vehicles with the caption reading “Going to defend Kiev” racked up 9 Million views and nearly as much re-posts, before it was uncovered that it was from a military parade that took place shortly after Russia annexed Crimea and Sevastopol.

(5)Biased Fact-Checkers:

Various social media companies like Meta, TikTok, Twitter, and Myspace utilize so-called “Independent Fact-Checkers” to sniff out false media pertaining to a variety of stories from Ukraine to Vaccination updates.

But the use of fact-checkers has been questioned over the past 3 years, as high profile cases of bias among fact-checkers have come to light.

This means that some false info has slipped through the cracks and even some of  the legitimate stories have been taken down due to being “fake news”.

(6)Propaganda:

The Ghost of Kiev was a Ukrainian fighter pilot that allegedly shot down roughly 20 Russian jets and hundreds of helicopters in early March, news of this pilot's accomplishments spread far and wide, even making it's way to The Pentagon.

Given the name due to the white camouflage on his jet seen in videos allegedly showing him flying around the skies above Kiev, it was later found that there was no “Ghost of Kiev” and that footage was taken from different airbases that had white camouflaged jets in their ranks and that the flying jets claimed to be him had different registration numbers and some footage was even ripped from the popular free to play air combat game War-Thunder.

It turned out that the Ukrainian Air Force was complacent in this too, by spreading this “Ghost of Kiev”'s accomplishments via propaganda akin to how the German Empire turned Manfred Von Richthofen (The Red Baron) into their own propaganda symbol to inspire the Prussian people and to recruit more people to the Luftstreitkrafte (Present day Luftwaffe), but at least the Red Baron and his accomplishments during WW1 were real.

(7)Deep Fakes

A deep fake is when someone superimposes an image of someone over their own face to mask who they are, social media users have been reported deep faking as US president Joe Biden, UK prime minister Boris Johnson, French president Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Chinese general secretary Xi Jinping. 

In videos where they're deep faking, the person masking themselves whilst making statements that to the wrong person or world leader would be seen as a genuine act of hostility.

All individuals who've been deep faked have urged users to check for "Artifacting" near the neck and edges of the face, which will prove if they're actually them or not.

All of these have helped to spread false information on the conflict in Ukraine, and many western governments have called for the social media giants of Silicon Valley to do something about it, Meta's Mark Zuckerberg stated: “We are doing the best we can to weed out this fake news, but it takes time”.

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