Beginning in 2022, short video clips began to be shared on social media with captions claiming they were taken from actual combat footage of the war in Ukraine. In some cases, the clips were taken from a video game.
In this May 28, 2022, example from Twitter, the caption read:
Nato sent their jet fighters & Helicopters to help Ukraine. As soon as they entered the border, they were attacked by the Russian missiles. Not a single one escaped. Only the Chinese media reported that news.
We note, parenthetically, that to date, NATO has not sent jet fighters to Ukraine.
The above video is reminiscent of a clip we examined in February 2022, just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. That clip, too, consisted of video game footage passed off as real. The source of the footage is a realistic military combat simulation game called ArmA 3, which was released for Microsoft for Windows in 2013. Players often record and share their simulations on YouTube, where they're grabbed and repurposed by people playing an entirely different kind of game: propaganda.
This video posted by the YouTube account Tactical Sim was the original source of the miscaptioned footage above:
As PC Gamer reported in February 2022, "modern conflicts are full of disinformation and propaganda that spread like wildfire across social media, where the desire for engagement and the need to share absolutely everything trumps fact-checking."
Social media users need to be wary of the claims presented to them, and resist passing along content that has not been authenticated.