A falsified BBC News segment that narrates the escalation of Russian and NATO combat to the point of a nuclear engagement has reappeared on social media.
The clip, a previously circulated fake from 2018, regained some traction earlier this week as military tensions between Russia and NATO flared over Russia’s increased military presence along the Ukrainian border.
A Jan. 20 Facebook post falsely characterized the video as proof of a “British National Emergency.”
That video was shared more than 1,000 times in three days. It was also shared in other Facebook posts, as first reported by Reuters.
The video shows a supposed BBC News reporter announcing “breaking news of a serious incident between Russian and NATO forces near the coast of Latvia.” The anchor says the incident involves a Russian aircraft that was “fired upon by naval vessels of NATO forces operating in that region after apparently straying into Latvian sovereign airspace.”
The video then depicts scenes of Russian vessels firing at American and British counterparts, the evacuation of the British royal family out of London and the bombing of U.S. military sites. It ends with an alarm warning of a nuclear attack.
But none of that happened. This is a fabricated newscast that has circulated online for years and been previously debunked by the BBC.
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who posted the video for comment.
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This video originated as a client video from a firm that labeled it as fictional, according to the BBC, which wrote an article addressing the video when it began circulating in 2018.
In that article, the BBC reported the content originated on YouTube by an account that “clearly stated it was a fake.” The posting account was eventually removed, but the video continued to spread through applications like WhatsApp.
According to Mark Ryes, the actor who played the reporter in the video, Ireland-based Benchmark Assessment Group produced the video.
Ryes told the BBC that the company made it as a “psychometric test for their clients to see how they’d react in a disaster scenario” and that it was not intended to look like a “genuine” report.
Though the video shows an opening sequence of an apparent BBC newsroom and includes a “BBC News” icon at the bottom right-hand corner of the clip, there are signs that indicate it as phony.
BBC branding, though present, is in a “font, style, and layout” inconsistent with their official counterpart, the company said.
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Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a BBC News segment depicts a military escalation between Russia and NATO. The video is an out-of-context dramatization made as a training video. The BBC previously debunked its association to the clip in 2018, tracing its source to a private company that identified it as fictional. The video’s actor has also gone on the record to say that the clip is fictional.
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