(Bloomberg) – Top videos on Facebook Gaming on Thursday were described as footage of live attacks on Ukraine by Russia, some accompanied by red “Breaking News” banners. But the videos were actually Arma 3 military simulator gameplay.
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The videos, viewed by more than 110,000 people and shared more than 25,000 times, were removed from the list after Bloomberg News approached Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. for comment. They are part of a flood of misleading content on social media from users trying to capitalize on the attention to war.
Meta has long struggled to moderate misleading or false information, including about elections and Covid-19. Experts say it’s harder to moderate video than text – especially live video, because it’s hard for the AI to analyze as it unfolds.
“In response to the military conflict unfolding in Ukraine, we have created a special operations center to respond in real time,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta, said on Twitter, adding that the center will be staffed with native speakers.
Launched in 2018, Facebook Gaming is Meta’s answer to Twitch, the popular gaming live-streaming service from Amazon.com Inc. On Thursday, the service was flooded with more than 90 Arma 3 videos with titles referencing the crisis in Ukraine – some of which lasted up to six hours. Early that day, Facebook Gaming’s five most viewed videos on the platform depicted a video game rendition of a military assault in Ukraine. Some of the titles of the videos, many of which are in Arabic, read “Russian fighter jets over Ukraine” and “Live scenes of Russian bombing of Ukraine”.
The most-watched live stream was actually a pre-recorded video of a plane bombing a shore in the Arma 3 game. Fifty-two thousand live viewers tuned in. asked viewers to subscribe to their channel. Under an Arabic Arma 3 video with a “Breaking News” tag, the creator commented that the live stream came “from the borders of Ukraine” and documented by a journalist. 8,000 viewers watched.
The top English feed that morning was “Russia Fighter Jets on Ukraine”, and included a red “Breaking News” banner. Despite the videos’ Arma 3 tags, viewers in the accompanying chat box wondered if these were real footage of the invasion.
“Meta now has enough experience to anticipate these kinds of things, especially in crisis scenarios like this,” said Evelyn Douek of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.
Many user-generated content sites have experienced similar issues. On Twitter, users posted purported videos of the attack that were actually recycled footage from previous conflicts. On TikTok, fake live streams surfaced of users saying they were in Ukraine, asking for monetary donations, with sounds of gunfire dubbed over images of residential homes in the UK, NBC reported.
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