the war video game that caused a wave of misinformation

Soldiers in burning cities, fighter planes shot down by missiles, tanks destroyed by drones…Weapon 3 seem more real than life.

Soldiers clash in burning cities, fighter planes are shot down by missiles, drones destroy tanks: these images appear larger than life, but are actually taken from war games like Weapon 3 that feeds the deluge of disinformation. The clip is taken from this game, to which the headband is often added “Life” Where “Latest news” to make it seem more genuine, it is often used in fake videos purporting to depict Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ease with which they deceive the public, and sometimes even television channels, worries researchers. He “a reminder of how easily people can be fooled”Claire Wardle, co-director of the Information Futures Lab at Brown University, told AFP. “With enhanced video game visuals, CGI can, at first glance, seem real”he explained. “The public needs to know how to verify the veracity of the image, especially how to review the metadata, so that this mistake can be avoided, especially by the media.”

Weapon 3, from Czech studio Bohemia Interactive, lets you generate different battle scenarios using planes, tanks and various weapons. Many players then share videos of their adventures online, which sometimes redirect. below picturesWeapon 3 title “Ukrainian counterattack!”a netizen who misunderstood, for example, commented: “We must ask Ukraine, after this war, to train NATO troops.”

The “First TikTok War”

“Though it flatters itWeapon 3 simulating modern conflicts so realistically, we are unhappy that it could be mistaken for actual combat footage and used as war propaganda.”reacted in a press release by studio representatives. “We tried to combat this content by reporting it to the platform, but it was completely ineffective. For every unpublished video, another ten videos are uploaded daily.

In recent years, images fromWeapon 3 has also been used to misrepresent conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Palestine, fake news is often denounced by digital verification media. AFP has tracked several, including one in November that claimed to show a Russian tank being hit by a Javelin missile and viewed tens of thousands of times. According to Bohemia Interactive, this piracy saw a resurgence in popularity with the invasion of Ukraine, sometimes called “first TikTok war” because of the many pictures that illustrate it on social networks.

“Trolls” and “naive”

The media was also fooled: the Romania TV Romania channel presented old videosWeapon 3 as showing fighting in Ukraine, and the former defense minister and former intelligence chief both commented on the image as if it were genuine. Already in February, another Romanian channel, Antenna 3, mistakenly broadcast an old videoWeapon 3 and invited a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense to analyze it. This will be limited to general comments about the conflict.

On social media, the reasons for sharing these fake clips vary. “I suspect the people posting this content are just trolls wanting to see how many people they can fool”, told AFP Nick Waters, of digital investigative website Bellingcat. Those who later distributed these publications, according to him, “naive person” trying to get visibility or subscribers on the internet. Given the unsophisticated nature of disinformation based on a quote fromWeapon 3it was unlikely to come from state actors, the researchers said.

For them, these clips are easier to verify than “deep fake” (Where “deep fake”), which consists in using artificial intelligence to create disorientingly realistic images, which are increasingly being used in the underworld. “If you know what to expect, this (Arma 3) video is actually not that hard to identify as fake”, added Nick Waters. Unfortunately, he regrets, “a lot of people don’t have the skills” to find misinformation.

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