Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

In now-deleted images from social media, the Russian Defense Ministry almost certainly used a screenshot from a mobile game as part of alleged evidence that the US military was supporting ISIS forces in Syria.

The posts, which appeared on Facebook and Twitter Tuesday morning, included photos the text described as “irrefutable evidence” of “direct cooperation and support by the US-led coalition to the ISIS terrorists”. But as Kings College research associate Elliot Higgins, noticed on Twitter one of those photos exactly matches images found in an online trailer for AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron, a little-known mobile game from Byte Conveyor Studios. A warning from that trailer that the video “Development footage / This is a work in progress / All content subject to change” was only partially cut from Department of Defense messages, illustrating the original source more clearly.

The original tweet has since been deleted (archived here) and updated the Facebook post to remove the image from the game. Other images in the posts appear to be from existing images posted by the Iraqi Air Force of attacks against ISIS and stay on Facebook.

“The Russian Defense Ministry is investigating its civilian employee who accidentally added photos to a statement about the interaction of the US-led coalition with Islamic State militants in the Abu-Kamal area,” the military said in a statement. statement to the address associated with Russia. exhaust RT.

AC-130 Gunship lets players provide air support to units on the ground in a Vietnam War, using the now-familiar black-and-white infrared focused vantage point made popular by images of drones and other military aircraft (and used memorably in Call of Duty IV: Modern Warfare‘Death from Above’ mission in 2007). The mobile game’s screenshots look fairly realistic when scaled down to miniatures of nondescript trucks on dirt roads, but when blown up to full size, the angular polygons, sharp focus from afar, and lack of detail on the trucks the true origin of the image more clearly .

Last year, a Russian embassy in the UK used an obvious Command & Conquer screenshot to illustrate the alleged delivery of “chemical munitions” to extremists near Aleppo. There have also been numerous cases of news outlets presenting screenshots of games as real photographic evidence, including a Assassin’s Creed background stands for war-torn Syria, a Fallout 4 screenshot used to illustrate Russian hacking, and Arma II screenshot mistaken for an IRA attack on a British helicopter, a Halo UNSC logo confused with the real UN logo, and a Metal Gear Solid 5 image used to illustrate child soldiers in South Sudan.

As games become more realistic (especially at a cursory glance), it becomes easier and easier to intentionally use their images as a substitute for reality for less observant viewers. And as these kinds of game images clog more and more unrelated Google image searches, it just makes it easier for sources to inadvertently present gaming screenshots as real-world scenes. On the other hand, once artificial intelligence discovers how to create compelling “news video” from whole fabric, our ability to distinguish fantasy images from reality may well be doomed.

View image by Eliot Higgins / Twitter

By akfire1

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