A striking video that appears to show a drone striking target after target is circulating widely on Turkish social media. Users sharing it believe it shows a Turkish army drone fighting in Afrin, Syria, because the video is labelled with the hashtag #Afrin. But in reality, these images are not real: they were taken from a video game.
This fake video was shared on many pro-Turkish social media accounts. On Instagram, one posting of the video has already been viewed more than 23,700 times.
In the soundtrack to the short video, you can hear what sounds like Turkish soldiers communicating via walkie talkie. It also has a Turkish music soundtrack. But with a little digging, it soon becomes clear that all the audio in this video, including the Turkish voices, were simply added to a screengrab from the video game Arma 3.
Though pains were taken to hide the video’s provenance by cropping the original image’s borders, there is an unmistakable sign: the red star that appears at several points in the video corresponds to the graphics of the video game.
A screen grab from the misleading video showing the red star graphic.
A screen grab from the Arma 3 video game showing the red star graphic.
Other details – like the numbers on the bottom that show the number of bullets, the word “WHOT” (short for “white hot”), the style of the fonts – are all identical to the Arma 3 video game environment.
A screen grab from the misleading video.
A screen grab from the Arma 3 video game.
Since the Turkish offensive on Afrin, there have been several instances of fake images circulating massively that internet users mistakenly believe to show Afrin.
However, Turkey is far from the only nation where people have used images from video games to show off their military might.
In November 2017, the Russian defence ministry published a series of photos that they said showed the US army collaborating with the Islamic state group. But one of the images was taken from the video game AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron. And in February 2016, Iran’s state television ran footage that they claimed showed a Hezbollah sniper picking off fighters from the Islamic State group. These images turned out to be from the game Medal of Honor.