It’s no surprise that the conflict in which Russia is involved includes what she calls “information warfare,” said Jennifer Mersica, a professor at Texas A&M University whose research focuses on propaganda and political discourse.
“Information warfare will always be a part of this,” Mersica said. “Obviously the Russians have significantly improved their information warfare operations over the past five or six years. We’ve certainly seen the effects of that on American politics, on Brexit, and on other kinds of campaigns around the world.”
While information warfare is not new, according to Mersica, the extent to which disinformation is currently prevalent is a result of the sheer volume of information about the situation in Ukraine available via various forms of media.
“What’s different now is that there are a lot of nodes to distribute the propaganda,” Mersica told CNN. “We always have a problem on social media of having a lot of information and not being able to sort and filter it to tell what’s real and what isn’t. One thing we always notice when there is a crisis or a natural disaster is that people will post content that they know is fake” .
This has proven to be particularly true of the current conflict. Journalists have debunked several viral videos that often show old footage from other conflicts being shared on social media and even in one instance on TV as if reflecting the situation on the ground.
Here are three such examples:
- NBC News reporter Ben Collins covering disinformation exposed A video of a soldier parachuting with over 20 million views on TikTok, where the top comment indicated he was “recording an invasion”. It was the same video to publish In August 2015 an Instagram account with the same username and what appears to be the same profile picture as the TikTok account. The original poster has since made his TikTok account private but videos from other accounts which include clips from the original video are still viewable, including One which has more than 31,000 likes as text overlaid over the original video indicates that the footage represents the ongoing conflict, with one individual expressing shock that he is “watching a war on TikTok”. That shock may be understandable, except that in this case they are not watching the scenes of war.
- Multiple videos claimed to show Russian planes flying in formations over Kiev, but a reverse image search in footage from the videos indicates they are footage from a flyover in Moscow prior to the holiday celebration in Russia. Clips of posts also match YouTube compile Military aircraft titled “Flybay Moscow (May 4, 2020)”. The videos that were Fact-checked initially by USA TodayIt is now flagged as misinformation on Facebook. It was one of the videos hung “Russian planes in the sky of Kiev”, “Other Russian planes flying over the sky of # Kiev, the capital of Ukraine”. Both videos have garnered more than 700 views.
- On Newsmax’s “National Report” Thursday, host Shawn Cressman presented He said, “You see some of that thermal imaging out there for tanks and troops on the ground just because this is just getting started.” However, the video clip broadcast by Newsmax is not for Ukraine but for Syria in 2020. Christian Tribert, part of the New York Times Visual Investigations team, pointed on Twitter that the shots were inverted A copy of a 2020 video showing a Syrian tank convoy destroyed by drones. Newsmax quoted the source of the video as “Ukrainian Armed Forces”. Although a Twitter account with a similar name posted the footage on Thursday, the 2020 video was originally from the Turkish Foreign Ministry and to publish by Clash Report.
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