About two weeks ago, an astonishing video from Ukraine appeared online. Russia hadn’t yet invaded at that point, but the video purported to show war breaking out in dramatic fashion. A fighter jet looped low over a town on an inky blue night and fired a missile at a target on the ground. It exploded in a starburst of orange flame, before a ribbon of pinkish, laser-like projectiles chased the plane away across the sky.
The clip was short but thrilling, and with tensions in and around Ukraine already rising fast, it was soon spreading like the Omicron variant — shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter. In time, though, a small problem emerged. It turned out that there was no plane, no missile striking the ground and no colorful return fire. This video that people around the world were watching in their thousands was not live footage from the brutal conflict starting in Europe, but a clip from a computer game called Arma 3, which was released nearly a decade ago.
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