The conflict in Ukraine is not your chance to go viral

Going back to the pop culture references, many on Twitter are making memes that show Zelensky photoshopped as various Marvel characters, including Captain America. Some people decided he looked like actor Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in the Marvel movies, and “cast” the actor as Zelensky in…I guess…a war movie? “Fans Cast Jeremy Renner as Zelensky in Ukraine Invasion Fantasy Movie: Too Soon?” a New York Post title read. “Fans…. of what……..,” a person responded.

Sellers on Etsy are even getting in on the action. On the platform you can buy cups with Zelensky’s face surrounded by the colors of the Ukrainian flag, a T-shirt with a quote from the president in flowery writing, another with the face of Zelensky on the famous Barack Obama”To hope“logo, or one that reads”President Zelenskyy, my hero.” Have we learned nothing from the condemned “cuomosexual” meme? No politician needs this level of online fervor and thirst surrounding them, and Zelensky has enough on his plate. “I’m not sure Twitter will survive a milkshake duck of this magnitude,” one person wrote. in response to hero worship.

On TikTok, things aren’t much better. As NPR reported over the weekend, the platform was inundated with videos purportedly from the front lines of the conflict which actually show footage of “old conflicts, scenes from movies and even video game battles as if showing live images on the ground”.

Media questions even called out TikTok for ‘facilitating’ the spread of misinformation, writing: ‘Videos of missile strikes, explosions and gunfights garner millions of views, though some contain older footage unrelated to this conflict or audio-manipulated videos to capitalize on anxious audiences.

He blamed one of the app’s key features, the ability to reuse someone else’s audio, as ‘a major source of digital misinformation’ because it allows people to upload new fake videos using the old audio. One of the videos Media Matters called up, which claimed to be from Ukraine and had been viewed more than 5 million times, used audio from a 2020 clip of an explosion in Beirut.

“TikTok’s platform architecture amplifies fear and allows misinformation to thrive in a time of high anxiety,” the watchdog wrote. “While it is crucial that the public stay informed of these high-stakes situations, it seems that the design of the platform is incompatible with the needs of the moment.