A clip of a February climate change demonstration in Austria in which protesters pretended to be in body bags has circulated as false evidence for the absurd claim that news media are staging deaths in Ukraine. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a surge of false conspiracy claims, including that the war is being staged (see here, here and here). While it’s impossible to know if any of these claims originated with Russian disinformation agents, spreading doubt about the reality of the situation in Ukraine is broadly aligned to Russian interests. It’s also worth noting that viral rumors sometimes evolve as they circulate — and that this isn’t the first time this footage has been used to push baseless conspiratorial claims. It circulated in early February to push the absurd idea that COVID-19 deaths were being staged. Since then, different versions of the footage have gone viral alongside claims that it shows staged Ukraine casualties. The addition of the NBC News audio track and caption about Ukraine is simply the latest version of the footage to circulate online.
Related: “Ukraine invasion: False claims the war is a hoax go viral” (Shayan Sardarizadeh and Olga Robinson, BBC News).
Here is a full copy of the video:
- “Austrian climate change protest video misused in false posts about Ukraine conflict” (AFP Fact Check).
- “Video shows climate protest in Austria, not war report in Ukraine” (Josh Kelety and Beatrice Dupuy, The Associated Press).
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