A Facebook post viewed more than 230,000 times features a TikTok video of the aftermath of an explosion in a city, showing destroyed buildings and smoke rising from the explosion site. The caption alongside reads “Omg pray for Ukraine”.
This isn’t a video of Ukraine.
Instead it shows a scene from Beirut, Lebanon. The video was posted on YouTube on 4 August 2020, and shared on Twitter the same day.
At that time a huge explosion in the port area of the city killed hundreds of people, injured thousands more, and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
The explosion was believed to have been caused by a fire at a warehouse storing ammonium nitrate, which has been associated with explosions in the past when it isn’t stored safely.
The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February 2022.
Photo by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung on Flickr
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Clues this video wasn’t from Ukraine
The first clue that the video is from Lebanon, not Ukraine, is the username of the account which first posted it to TikTok: @libanongood. There are also comments next to the video on both Facebook and TikTok from people claiming the video is from the Lebanon disaster.
By examining the footage itself, you can also see a tall stretch of grain silos next to the fire and smoke which look exactly like those in Beirut. Several photographs of the damage caused also match up to the scenes from the video.
Finally, by using a tool like InVid—which lets you break down a video into a series of still images, and then search for similar images online—you can find lots of other photographs of the same event.
You can find tips on how to spot misleading videos in our guide to checking videos online.