Ukraine disinformation

25 February 2022 | Will Moy

The war in Ukraine was fomented by disinformation and information warfare will be part of the battle.

In the UK we have seen a little of this, for example after the Salisbury poisonings. In 2018 Russia put numerous narratives into play with the aim of causing confusion and indecision rather than convincing lots of people of one false narrative. You can see that at work in President Putin’s address this week.

Now, our fact checkers are liaising with peers across the world to track and counter false claims. You can help people stop the spread of disinformation by sharing these tips on spotting false information.

I am glad to report that at the time of writing our fellow fact checkers from Ukraine are safe, though many have left the country. Their losses remind me how important it is that we all can and will keep trying to build a more open and accountable democracy here in the UK.

Ukraine fact checks so far:

  • A video of military planes flying overhead, widely shared on Facebook, is claimed to be footage from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is false–it actually shows footage of a military parade rehearsal from May 2020.
  • A post on Facebook claims a video which includes a number of different clips depicts Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was posted on the morning of 24 February 2022 and at the time of writing has over 19,000 views. The two-minute video contains five different clips. One was definitely not taken in Ukraine, one was not taken during the current invasion, one was taken from a video game, one may have been taken in Ukraine over the last 24 hours and one we were not able to verify at all.
  • A video shared on Facebook, which has been viewed over 77,000 times, claims to show footage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Some of the clips included in the video are clearly not of the invasion as they predate it.
  • A post shared over 1,000 times on Facebook features three images of explosions, with a caption describing the current invasion of Ukraine and stating: “Explosions have been heard in Ukraine after Russia launched a full-scale invasion this morning.” One of the photographs is of an explosion in Ukraine. The other two show explosions in Gaza.
  • A post on Facebook claims to show a “Fire starting by russian airstrike” with hashtags mentioning Ukraine alongside a video of large explosions, where a man can be heard swearing in the background. That’s not what this video shows. It was taken in 2015 in the Chinese city of Tianjin during an explosion at a warehouse that handled dangerous substances, not during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

All Ukraine related fact checks

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Featured image is 2017 Kyiv view with various cultural heritage monuments: Moahim, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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