Misleading videos and images are mainstays of disinformation. By engaging with visual evidence under false pretenses — perhaps because it was stripped of context or tied to a misleading caption — viewers' perception of reality can be warped. And, when global conflicts or crises are unfolding, the consequences of such widespread, incorrect understandings could have disastrous effects.
Below are seven videos and images that circulated widely during the 2022 war in Ukraine.
They include footage from a military simulation video game that spread like digital wildfire because people mistakenly believed it showed Ukrainian and Russian forces fighting, as well as several posts that attempted to downplay the violence or convince people that Russia's attack on Ukraine was justified.
The videos and photos are ranked in no particular order.
Did 'Crisis Actors' Make a Propaganda Video in Ukraine?
❌ No. Claims that photos or videos supposedly showed "crisis actors," or people pretending to be in crisis in Ukraine, were part of a disinformation campaign that ultimately attempted to grow people's distrust of anyone who considered the war a serious matter. For example, the video below wasn't related to the 2022 conflict at all; it was years-old, behind-the-scenes footage from the set of a sci-fi adventure movie.
Does This Video Show a Ukrainian Tank Crashing Through a Russian Barrier in 2022?
❌ Nope. This video — which racked up millions of views on TikTok in February and March 2022 — was actually filmed in 2014 during the Battle of Mariupol, shortly after Russia annexed Crimea.
Did Zelenskyy 'Troll' Putin Over a Supposedly Fake Video?
❓ Unproven. This rumor stems from two video clips: one supposedly showing Russian President Vladimir Putin's hand passing through a mic, and the other showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy touching a similar mic and moving it to one side. However, the illusion of the "ghost microphone" was caused by a low-quality video (not the result of an elaborate hoax to fool viewers), and there wasn't enough evidence to definitely say why the video of Zelenskyy showed him touching his mic.
Is This a Real Photo of Zelenskyy Holding a Swastika Jersey?
❌ Nope. The image in the middle is not a genuine photo of Ukraine's president, who is Jewish. Rather, it is part of a concerted effort by Russian propagandists to depict him as a Nazi in order to justify Russia's invasion of the country. Someone made the swastika image by altering an authentic photo of Zelenskyy holding the jersey of the national team of Ukraine ahead of Euro 2020.
Is This a Genuine Photo of Strollers that People Left in a Train Station in Poland To Help Ukrainian Refugees?
✅ Yes. This photograph was taken by Francesco Malavolta, a photojournalist covering the conflict in Ukraine. He shared the photo on Twitter along with an Italian-language caption that translates to "Strollers left at the station for women arriving from Ukraine with babies."
Does This Video Really Show Russian and Ukrainian Forces Exchanging Gunfire?
❌ Nope. Rather, this video was from a military simulation video game called ArmA3.
Is This a Real News Report on Russia's Invasion of Ukraine?
❌ Not at all. This video that shows a reporter in front of dozens of body bags was actually taken in Austria on Feb. 4, 2022 (about two weeks before Russia's invasion of Ukraine), and it shows (living) environmental activists. Nevertheless, social media users shared the clip as if it was taken in Ukraine and showed a reporter talking about the war's death toll in front of actual casualties.
— Snopes writers contributed to this report.
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