A video of a flock of birds swooping over a freeway in the US state of Texas has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in online posts that falsely claim it shows a murder of crows in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in January 2023. The claim circulated online during the 11th month of Russia's war in Ukraine.
The video was published on Weibo on January 24, 2023.
Its simplified-Chinese caption translates to English as: "Here is another video. Thousands of crows are flying and circling at low altitudes over Kyiv, Ukraine. "It is possible that the dead soldiers came back to call their souls back…"
That video has been viewed more than 37,000 times.
A screenshot taken on January 27, 2023 of the false post
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the biggest attack on a European country since World War II when he ordered Russian troops to invade neighbouring Ukraine on February 24 last year.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the 11-month-old war, AFP reported on January 25.
The video gained another 258,000 views after it was shared alongside a similar claim in Chinese, English and Russian on Twitter, Weibo, Douyin and in a blog post.
But the video was actually taken in the US state of Texas.
A combination of reverse image and Google keyword searches found the video was originally published on Instagram on January 20, 2017 and geotagged to Houston.
"Dreamy. #houstontexas #tweets #houstoncity," the caption reads.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the Instagram post (right):
A screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the Instagram post (right)
The post's caption indicates the video was licenced by Jukin Media, a California-based media company.
The location shown in the video corresponds with Google Street View imagery of the Interstate 610 freeway in Houston, as shown below:
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and the Google Street View imagery (right) with similarities circled by AFP:
A screenshot comparison of the video in the false post (left) and Google Street View imagery (right) with similarities circled by AFP
The false claim was also debunked by Associated Press.
AFP has debunked hundreds of false claims about Russia's war in Ukraine.