Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine beginning Feb. 24, misinformation about the situation has spread rapidly. For example, this tweet claims that CNN was faking war footage in Ukraine.
The tweet claims that CNN started a fire in Edmonton, Canada, and made it look like they were reporting from Lviv, Ukraine. Their evidence? Firefighters seen in the background seem to be wearing uniforms with “Edmonton” on the back.
The tweet has since been deleted, but here’s another claiming the same thing.
Let’s dive into this claim and find out what’s really happening in CNN’s footage. Here’s how we fact-checked it.
Track down the original source
The best path for verifying screenshots or short clips of videos is to try and find the original source. After Googling “CNN Ukrainian fires Lviv,” I found the full CNN broadcast.
The footage seems very realistic, and given the magnitude of the explosion, it’s difficult to believe it could be staged — especially given the fact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been so well-documented.
Try using a skill called geolocation
Trusting your gut or even just the vibe you’re getting from a suspicious claim online is a great way to navigate the internet and avoid being deceived. But to be sure, a media literacy tool called geolocation can help you know for sure if a video was taken in a specific area. Geolocation is the process of using information in a photo or video to attempt to confirm its authenticity, and it’s a great way to debunk suspicious photos and videos.
One great tool for geolocation is Google Maps’ Street View, which has mapped out much of the planet. If you’re unsure whether a situation happened where someone is claiming that it did, try to look for key landmarks and cross reference the background with Google Maps.
After some searching, I found the street that CNN was on the northeastern portion of Lviv. Sure enough, it looks identical to the fiery photos being broadcasted. (Watch the video above for a tutorial.)
For confirmation, use a keyword search
So how did gear from Edmonton, Canada, end up in Ukraine? The real story is that those jackets were donated to the Ukrainian firefighters by Edmonton firefighters, specifically a nonprofit organization called Firefighter Aid Ukraine. Edmonton’s fire chief also posted a message confirming that the coats seen were donated from their supply.
There was also no need for CNN to fake the explosion, as Russia’s defense ministry publicly claimed responsibility for the strikes.
Not Legit. Multiple sources confirmed that the fire seen in the CNN broadcast was filmed in Lviv, Ukraine. The coats worn by firefighters were actually donated from Edmonton Fire Rescue Services.
@mediawise #reverseimagesearch for the win #medialiteracy #factcheckyourfeed ♬ Monkeyshine-JP – Lt FitzGibbons Men
Keeping a critical eye on everything you see is undoubtedly important. But, it’s disheartening to see claims that major news organizations would go as far to fake war footage. This level of distrust in the media is alarming. So, if you’re wondering how to determine if a source is reliable, here are a couple of things to do before resharing:
- Look for editorial standards that include policies for corrections and things like transparency. This can be done by simply googling the organization’s name and “editorial standards.” It’s a good sign if they also have a fact-checking policy.
- Always read upstream and double check that the sources linked in the article are actually saying what the article claims they do. Sometimes bogus stories will link to official documents or studies that state the opposite of their reporting, because they know most people won’t take the time to check it out.
- Use a skill called lateral reading. This is when you open up new tabs to figure out who’s really behind the information. If you’ve never heard of a news site, just google its name to see if any other sources you’re more familiar with have reported on them.