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How to spot fake news circulating about the Russia Ukraine conflict
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Security & privacy

Ukraine invasion: Are these 5 rumors true or false?

In times of crisis, you can expect to see misinformation circulating. Now that Russia invaded Ukraine, social media is flooded with misleading news, like doctored images and inaccurate reports. Tap or click here for six clever ways to spot fake news stories and scams.

However, it’s especially hard to spot misleading news in wartime. That’s because everything is moving at a breakneck pace. Sure, you could follow on-the-ground reporters like CNN’s Matthew Chance or Trey Yingst with Fox News. But you’ll still probably stumble across convincing stories that trick you.

We came across five convincing stories while researching the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Luckily, resources like Snopes are here to check the facts. Here are some rumors you may have overheard — along with the true stories behind the hysteria.

1. Did Putin threaten nuclear retaliation?

Clearly, Russia’s intent on invading Ukraine. It launched a siege by land, air, sea and even cyberspace. Tap or click here to find out how Russia’s cyberattacks on Ukraine could portend an attack on America.

Some people say he threatened nuclear action against any country that tried to stop the takeover. This is both true and false, according to Snopes. He said any attempts to retaliate against his invasion would invite consequences “never before seen in history.”

He didn’t explicitly mention nuclear retaliation, though. Then again, Putin is a wild card, so many people think there was an implicit threat in his words. Here’s the full story from Snopes.

2. Are these Russian paratroopers landing in Ukraine? 

Tricksters crawl out of the woodwork whenever something terrible happens and people flock to social media for answers. For some reason, they love to mislead people who are just looking for answers. Trolls will often throw up old videos and pretend they’re new.

Then again, honest mistakes are also pretty common. Take, for example, a video that you may see with this caption: “Paratroopers landing in Ukraine.” It seems to show Russian paratroopers invading Ukrainian soil in February of 2022.

According to Snopes, this video is miscaptioned. It’s an old video from 2016 that was first posted with the Russian words for, “Remember, this is what Russian paratroopers look like.” Here’s the original tweet:

The footage doesn’t even take place on Ukrainian soil, according to Military.com. Apparently, it shows around 15,000 Russian troops in the Rostov Oblast region. Speaking of paratroopers, here’s another piece of misleading news you may have fallen for.

3. What about this paratrooper’s TikTok video?

This rumor was so juicy it tricked Barstool Sports. A viral video seemed to show a Russian soldier callously filming a TikTok during the invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the tweet that went viral (watch out for the expletive):

The post would have you believe this smiling soldier was recording the invasion. In reality, it’s been floating around the internet since 2015. Here’s an Instagram post with the same video.

4. Did Ukraine’s UN ambassador imply his Russian counterpart is a war criminal? 

Here’s an actually true story, according to Snopes. At a recent United Nations meeting, Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya was in a meeting while Russia invaded Ukraine. As such, he was surprised to see the Russian ambassador sitting in the meeting as though nothing was amiss.

It’s easy to understand why many people thought this story was fake. It almost sounds too poetic to be true. Imagine having to keep your cool while someone representing your country’s assailants sits calmly in the same room as you.

Kyslytsya refused to stay silent. He referred to the Russian ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, as a war criminal. He said, “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell.”

Here’s the original video:

5. What’s this about secret U.S. biolabs in Ukraine?

Have you seen the hashtag #USBiolabs trending on Twitter? According to Snopes, it’s a piece of Russian propaganda that says Russia is invading Ukraine to access secret biological labs with deadly diseases. There’s no evidence to this, Snopes says. It’s just a way to discredit U.S. concerns about Ukraine.

Read more for a few ways to spot fake news

7 podcasts that help you weed out misinformation online

Disinformation: How social media lies change history

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