War of fake images erupts between India and Pakistan

Misleading information published online in both Pakistan and India.
Misleading information published online in both Pakistan and India.

The Pakistani army shot down at least one Indian military jet overnight from February 26-27, escalating tensions between the two nuclear powers. Pakistan and India have long fought over Kashmir, a region between the two countries to which both lay claim. But this latest twist in the conflict was accompanied by a battle of fake images – and people on social media, politicians and media on both sides shared many of the false images in an attempt to celebrate their armies and discredit the opposite side.

On February 14, the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is based in Pakistan, killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir. On February 26, the Indian army retaliated by carrying out strikes on what it said was a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot in Pakistan. It was the first time since the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 that India had bombed Pakistani territory.

People on social media in both countries have posted a video they say shows a missile launched by an Indian Mirage fighter jet on a Jaish-e-Mohammed training base.

The video was even used on TV news channels in India.

However, the video clip actually comes from “Arma 2” – a military video game – and was published on YouTube almost four years ago (July 9, 2015). In this part of the game an American Apache helicopter is seen "attacking" Taliban forces.

In the footage that was shared on social media, the video has been cropped to hide the red-and-white logo at the bottom right of the video. But if you pay attention, you can see the same “DD” logo at the top of both videos. There are other clues, like the digits on both videos are the same.

The video being shared online is an extract from a longer original video. The extract begins at 00:29 of the original video.

Many Indian journalists and political fell for the fake.

Vikas Bhadauria, a journalist at the Indian news channel ABP, retweeted the video to his more than 25,000 followers.

A general secretary for India’s ruling party the BJP, Tarun Chugh, also shared the video on his Facebook page.

The video quickly went viral: this Twitter account shared it and racked up more than 20,000 views.

Fake photos

Fake news isn’t just making the rounds in India but in Pakistan as well. After the Pakistani army announced it had fired missiles at two Indian aircraft on February 27, several photos of downed planes circulated online. Some of them are real, such as those taken by AFP and published in the Financial Express.

But one of the photos in this tweet below is false.

It actually dates back to January 2016, when an Indian Mirage fighter jet crashed near Jodphur after it caught fire.

This article was written by Ershad Alijani.