From Thursday, February 24, social media witnessed the flooding of misinformation based on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Covering from pro-Kremlin conspiracies going viral across messaging platform Telegram, to videos describing footage as live attacks. These videos proliferated across the gaming platform of Facebook.
The top viral videos spreading on Facebook Gaming were captioned as footage from Ukraine. The description of the videos said that they were footage of live attacks on site by Russia, some even complete with banners saying “breaking news” in red. However, in reality they were actually gameplay clips from ‘Arma 3,’ the military themed video game.
On the other hand, more than 100 channels on Telegram, having hundred thousand followers, were flooded with posts promoting conversations. They were promoting talking points from Vladamir Putin, as Russian forces were invading Ukraine.
The wrongly described videos were watched more than 110,000 times concurrently, and shared way more 25000 times. Subsequently, they were pulled down as news platforms reached out to the Meta Platforms for a statement. Meta has a reputation for struggling to limit fake or misleading news, often based on the pandemic or elections. It is a known fact that moderating videos is more challenging than texts for platforms to identify the details.
Meta’s head of security policy, Mr. Nathaniel Gleicher made a statement on Twitter, mentioning that the centre will now comprise of native speakers.
“In response to the unfolding military conflict in Ukraine, we have established a Special Operations Centre to respond in real time.”
Facebook’s Gaming was launched in 2018 as Meta’s reaction to Amazon.com’s popular game live streaming service, Twitch. When the videos were posted, the service was also witnessing a wave of 90 ‘Arma 3’ videos. These videos came with titles that referenced the Ukrainian crisis- some shown as live for as much as 8 long hours. Five of the most-watched videos on Facebook’s Gaming showed a “military assault” in Ukraine in the video game rendition.
The most viewed livestream video was a pre-recorded visual of a plane seen to shell a shoreline in the Arma 3 game. As much as 52,000 viewers tuned in live to watch it. Some videos were in Arabic title “Russia fighter jets on Ukraine,” one of them even had a “breaking news” banner.
Telegram has also drawn major criticism for such misinformation being spread. This is despite the fact that the platform was a source of major news about genuine information about the invasion in Ukraine. These pieces of information about the Russian invasion also included dispatches from officials of the Ukrainian Government.