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Video game misrepresented as footage of Ukraine invasion

February 25, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Footage of aircraft getting targeted by ground fire shows the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The footage is from the video game Arma 3, a representative from the company that makes the game confirmed to The Associated Press.

THE FACTS: As Russian forces attacked Ukraine on Thursday, social media users shared footage from Arma 3 to falsely claim it depicted the conflict in eastern Europe. The game has been repeatedly misrepresented online in the past as video of real military conflict.

The video circulating on Facebook featured a fake cable news-style banner reading “BREAKING NEWS,” over the images of aircraft coming under heavy fire from the ground. “OMG!!! Russia just attacked Ukraine! Look at this footage,” one user wrote alongside the clip, in a post that received over 800,000 views.

But the footage is computer generated and shows a video game, not the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“I can indeed confirm these screens originate from video from heavilly modded Arma game being falsely tagged as a footage from current Ukrainian conflict,” Pavel Křižka, PR manager at Bohemia Interactive, the company that created the Arma game series, wrote in an email to the AP. “It’s Arma 3 game featuring assets from 3rd parties / mod makers.”

Parts of the clip feature the same scenes from Arma 3 that previously circulated in January 2020, when users falsely portrayed it as footage of the U.S. shooting down Iranian missiles. A representative for Bohemia Interactive confirmed to the AP at the time that the footage is from the series.

The scenes from the latest misleading video also match elements from numerous Arma 3 gameplay videos on YouTube, including distinctive bright red munitions being fired at planes and the same surrounding environment.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, targeting cities and military bases with airstrikes and sending in troops and tanks from three sides, the AP reported. Numerous fake or misleading videos have circulated online amid the attack.

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This story has been updated to include comments from a representative with Bohemia Interactive.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.