When video games interfere with fake news
Soldiers clash in burning cities, warplanes are shot down by missiles, drones pulverize tanks: these images seem larger than life, but are actually taken from video games of war like “Arma 3” feeding the deluge of disinformation.
Clips taken from this game, where headbands are often added “Be alive“where”breaking newsto make them more authentic, often used in fake videos depicting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The ease with which they deceive the public, and sometimes even television channels, worries researchers. This is “a reminder of how easily people can be fooled“, said Claire Wardle, co-director of the Information Futures Lab at Brown University, to AFP.
“In enhanced video game visuals, CGI can, at first glance, appear real“, he explained.”People need to know how to verify the truth of these images, especially how to check the metadata, to avoid these errors, especially by the media.“
Arma 3, from the Czech studio Bohemia Interactive, allows you to build different combat scenarios using planes, tanks and various weapons. Many players share videos of their adventures online, which are sometimes diverted.
Under Arma 3 images titled “Ukraine’s counter-offensive!“, one deluded netizen for example commented: “We should ask Ukraine, after this war, to train NATO forces.”
“The First TikTok War”
“While it’s flattering that Arma 3 simulates modern conflict realistically, we’re angry that it could be mistaken for actual combat footage and used as war propaganda.“, reacted in a press release of a representative of the studio.
“We try to combat this content by reporting it to the platforms, but it is not effective. For every unpublished video, ten more are uploaded every day.“
In recent years, Arma 3 footage has also been used to misrepresent the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine, fake news regularly denounced by the digital verification media.
AFP tracked down several, including one in November that claimed to show Russian tanks hit by Javelin missiles and had been viewed tens of thousands of times.
According to Bohemia Interactive, these hijackings have seen a resurgence in popularity with the Ukraine invasion, which is sometimes called “first tiktok war“because of the many pictures depicting it on social networks.
“Trolls” and “naïve”
The media was also misled: the Romanian channel Romania TV showed an old Arma 3 video in November showing fighting in Ukraine, and a former defense minister and a former intelligence chief both commented on the images as if they were real. this.
In February, another Romanian channel, Antena 3, mistakenly broadcast an old video of Arma 3 and invited the spokesperson of the Defense Ministry to review it. It will be limited to general comments about the conflict.
On social media, the reasons for sharing these fake clips are varied.
“I suspect that the people posting this content are just ‘trolls’ who want to see how many people they can fool“, Nick Waters, of the digital investigation site Bellingcat, told AFP.
Those who redistribute these publications are, according to him, “naive people“trying to gain visibility or subscribers on the internet.
Due to the unsophisticated nature of the disinformation based on the Arma 3 excerpts, it is unlikely to come from state actors, the researchers said.
For them, it’s easier to review these clips than “deepfakes“(where)deeply fake“), which consists of using artificial intelligence to create confusingly realistic images, which are increasingly used in the criminal world.
“If you know what to expect, these videos (of Arma 3) really aren’t hard to spot as fake“, adds Nick Waters. Unfortunately, he regrets it, “many people are incompetentto detect misinformation.