Soldiers fighting in burning cities, fighter jets shot down by missiles, drones spraying tanks – images that look authentic, but are actually extracted from video games like „Arma 3” fueling a wave of disinformation about the war in Ukraine, France Presse reports, Agerpres reads.
Video clips taken from the game Arma 3, often accompanied by billboards with messages such as „Live” or „Breaking news” to make them look more authentic, were frequently used in fake videos that claimed to depict moments of the invasion Russians in Ukraine.
The ease with which they fool the public, and sometimes even television stations, worries researchers. „With the improvement of visual sequences in video games, synthetic images can, at first glance, appear real,” explains Claire Wardle, co-director of the Information Futures Lab at Brown University.
The game Arma 3, by the Czech studio Bohemia Interactive, allows the generation of various combat scenarios with planes, tanks and various other weapons. Many players then share images of their adventures on the Internet, which are often hijacked or used for propaganda purposes by members of a camp.
For example, one sequence claims to show how Russian tanks are hit by Javelin missiles, and below Arma 3 images titled „Counteroffensive of Ukraine!” an internet user misled and impressed by the success of the Ukrainian army suggested by these images commented: „We should ask Ukraine, after this war, to train NATO forces”.
„While it is flattering that Arma 3 simulates modern conflicts in such a realistic way, we are unhappy that the game can be confused with images of real combat or used as war propaganda”, reacted a representative of the studio.
„We try to combat these contents by reporting them to the platforms, but it is not effective at all. For every video withdrawn, another ten are uploaded online every day”, says the same representative of Bohemia Interactive.
Arma 3 has also been used to falsely illustrate the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan or Palestine, but its use for disinformation gained momentum with the war in Ukraine, sometimes described as „the first TikTok war”.
Some mass media were also tricked, France Presse notes, which writes that in November the Romania TV channel presented an old video from Arma 3 as showing fighting in Ukraine, and a former minister of defense and a former head of the intelligence services they both then commented on the images as if they were authentic.
Earlier, in February, another Romanian station, Antena 3, continued AFP, broadcast by mistake an old video from Arma 3 and invited the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense to analyze it; it was limited to general statements about the conflict.
However, some researchers do not believe that such images are initially disseminated by state actors, given the unsophisticated character of the disinformation based on sequences extracted from Arma 3. On the other hand, there are many people who watch them and do not notice the disinformation.