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Ukraine Putin manipulated content

No, actor Steven Seagal isn’t fighting alongside Russian special forces in Ukraine

An imposter tweet designed to look like it came from CNN’s verified Twitter account falsely claims that the actor Steven Seagal is traveling with Russian special forces in Ukraine. But that’s not true. Let’s take a look at the facts.

An Instagram post from Joe Rogan that includes a screenshot of what appears to be a tweet from the verified account of CNN. The tweet includes a photo of Steven Seagal in military fatigues and says “Intelligence agencies from around the world have spotted American actor Steven Seagal among Russian special forces positioned around the outskirts of Gostomel airfield near Kyiv captured by Russian airborne troops.” The News Literacy Project has added a label that says "FAKE."
The actor Steven Seagal is not “among Russian special forces” in Ukraine.
CNN did not tweet or otherwise report this.
This is a fabricated tweet mocked up to look like it was posted by CNN’s verified Twitter account.
Podcast host Joe Rogan shared this image with his nearly 15 million Instagram followers on Feb. 28, then later deleted it.
In 2016, Seagal was publicly granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin, and in 2018 was appointed as a special envoy by the Kremlin.

NewsLit takeaway

Imposter content designed to appear to come from an authoritative source is common during major breaking news events when people are eager to find and share updated information. The involvement of a celebrity — especially one with actual ties to the Russian government — only enhances the viral appeal of this example. This is a good reminder to always be wary of purported social media posts circulating as screenshots with no link to an actual post. Such images are extremely easy to create using freely available online tools.

Related: “Fact check: Phony images masquerading as CNN coverage go viral amid war in Ukraine” (Daniel Dale, CNN).

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