Facts Matter: Film is from video game, not Soleimani strike

  • A YouTube video -- which got more than 2 million hits on Facebook -- claiming to show the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, was actually from a video game, PolitiFact.com reports.

    A YouTube video -- which got more than 2 million hits on Facebook -- claiming to show the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, was actually from a video game, PolitiFact.com reports. Associated Press file photo, September 2016

Updated 1/18/2020 6:54 PM

Video footage purporting to show the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran General Qassem Soleimani is actually from a video game, according to PolitiFact.com.

Shortly after the Jan. 3 hit on Soleimani, a YouTube video claiming to show the Soleimani "assassination" was viewed more than 2 million times on Facebook.


In the video, a group of vehicles are shot at as they reach the center of crosshairs on the screen. A voice says, "We've got guys running away from that vehicle. The vehicle is destroyed."

But no one was actually harmed in this video.

The footage is from the mobile video game "AC-130 Gunship Simulator," PolitiFact said. It was posted on YouTube in 2015, titled "AC-130 Gunship Simulator -- Convoy engagement."

That video game has been used before to spread other false news, PolitiFact said. In 2017, photos that were supposedly published by the Russian Ministry of Defense showing collusion between the Islamic state and the U.S. were actually screenshots from the game.

Obama photo has been doctored

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar earlier this month said on Twitter, "The world is a better place without these guys in power," along with a photo of former President Barack Obama appearing to shake hands with Iran President Hassan Rouhani.

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But Rouhani is still in power, the two world leaders have never met and the photo has been altered, according to The New York Times. The image of Obama was from a photo taken in 2011 when the president met with then-Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh.

The flag in the background of the doctored photo is also incorrect, the Times said. The photo is missing a line of white Arabic writing and a red tulip that appear on the Iranian flag. The orange bar on the flag of India in the original picture was change to green to try to make it resemble the Iranian flag.

Gosar referred to reporters as "dimwitted," after other Twitter users pointed out the fake photo, the Times said.

"No one said this wasn't Photoshopped," Gosar said on Twitter. "No one said the president of Iran was dead. No one said Obama met with Rouhani in person."

Gosar told Fox News he wasn't intending to be authentic, he just wanted to criticize the two leaders.


Fake news follows tragedy

The wildfires that killed at least 26 people and destroyed 2,000 homes in Australia have also been the subject of several false reports.

An image making the rounds on social media showing many fires ablaze in Australia is not a NASA photo but rather artist Anthony Hearsey's 3-D depiction of the fires throughout a month, according to The Associated Press. It shows current fires alongside others that already are out.

The photo wasn't intended to be used out of context, Hearsey told the AP.

"It's essentially a graphical interpretation of zoomed-out data from NASA. Nothing more or less," he said.

A story on the website InfoWars falsely reported that nearly 200 people have been arrested for deliberately starting the wildfires, <URL destination="https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/australia-arrested-bushfires/">according to Snopes.com.

</URL>New South Wales police, since Nov. 8, have charged 183 people with bushfire-related offenses, Snopes said. But only 24 of those have been charged with deliberately starting fires.

Police said 53 people were arrested for failure to comply with a fire ban and 47 people were charged with discarding a lighted match or cigarette on the ground. Two people were charged after igniting fires to heat a cup of tea or cook food. Those fires were extinguished by firefighters, Snopes said.

And a social media post showed a collection of photos of animals that had supposedly perished in the Australian fires, including an image of a tiger, <URL destination="https://www.politifact.com/facebook-fact-checks/statements/2020/jan/06/viral-image/no-viral-image-tiger-burning-not-australias-wildfi/">according to PolitiFact.com.

</URL>But the image, viewed more than 20 million times, is actually from a 2012 event in which confiscated taxidermy animals in Jakarta were being destroyed in a bonfire, PolitiFact said. Possession of protected animals in Indonesia is a criminal offense.

Finland not planning 24-hour workweek

Recent news reports claim Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin is looking to cut the nation's workweek to four, 6-hour days, according to The Washington Post.

But a spokesman told the Post that August Marin, who was minister of transport at the time, had floated the idea of either a four-day workweek or six-hour work days, not both. Marin, 34, became prime minister in December.

There has been no recent activity to change the workweek, the spokesman said.

The story appears to have come from an article published by the Brussels newspaper New Europe, the Post said. Zoi Didili, the reporter who wrote the story, told The Associated Press the translation from Finnish news sources had some details wrong.

"We fell into the trap of not cross-checking this information properly," Didili said. "We've been very alerted to the fact that so many news outlets reported the story without checking it from original sources."

The story has been corrected online, the Post said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com

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