Fake videos and images flooded X hours after Iranian attack on Israel

Fake videos and images flooded X hours after Iranian attack on Israel

Fake videos and images flooded social media in the hours after Iran launched missiles and drones toward Israel on April 13.

Within seven hours drones are launched34 fake images and videos purporting to show the conflict were viewed 37 million times on X, according to a report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).

Seventy-seven percent of posts came from “verified” paid accounts. X Amplifies certain publications and responses of these accounts so that they are more easily seen by other people, and the verified “checkout” may make users believe that the publication is real.

“The checkmark, based on how Twitter previously operated, gives this account a sense of legitimacy,” report author Mustafa Ayad told Sky News.

The “fog of war” and the rush of information that follows a news event “allows these accounts to fill the void of verified information during crisis events, thereby increasing their audience and influence,” according to the report.

“[Misinformation] is becoming a trend that can almost be predicted for every type of crisis or attack,” Ayad said.

“The speed at which these messages are traveling is faster and the scale is greater.”

Anti-missile system in action after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel. Photo: Reuters

Community Notes on X are designed to help combat misinformation but only two of the posts studied by the ISD were accompanied by community notes when they reviewed the posts seven hours after the attack.

“In those first few hours, you’re going to get a lot of information, a lot of which will be unverified or completely false,” Mr. Ayad said.

“We saw it in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we saw it on October 7, we saw it in the bombing of Gaza.

“It is best not to interact with this type of content in the first few hours unless it has been verified by a media outlet.”

Deryck Mitchelson is the chief information security officer at cybersecurity company Check Point. His company analyzes cyber threats, including disinformation campaigns.

“Most of the fake news is around wars [starts off as] propaganda,” he told Sky News.

“Then it spreads very quickly. It spreads among those who sympathize with the cause, and then AI robots pick it up and spread it.”

In fact, footage of the forest fires in Chile has been released Iranian State Television after the attack, with the channel claiming to have shown the damage caused by the strikes in Israel, according to the report.

It was then widely shared on social networks.

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Most of the fake content was either reused from previous events or generated using AI.

While there are methods to check if an image or video is being reused, identifying AI-generated content can be much more difficult.

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Mr. Mitchelson says the growing amount of AI-generated misinformation means people need to be much more careful about these types of posts.

“We need to spend more time trying to verify them and if we can’t do that, add disclaimers to say, ‘This is not verified.’

Sky News contacted X for comment but did not receive a response.


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