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Kharkiv Epicenter strike disinformation campaign launched on TikTok

27.05.2024, 18:09

A disinformation campaign has been spreading on TikTok, with fake posts claiming that there was UAF military equipment parked next to the Epicenter store in Kharkiv before the Russian shelling strike. A photo taken in 2022 is used as proof. It appears to show military equipment in the Retroville mall in Kyiv, which Russia targeted on March 20, 2022. This was noticed by the experts of the Institute of Mass Information.

Screenshot of a misleading TikTok video by IMI

Screenshot of a misleading TikTok video by IMI

Most of the videos have the same captions saying that this is the Kharkiv store which was recently shelled by the Russian troops.

Analysts at the Institute of Mass Information found at least five such videos, with one video having over a million views. But there may be more such fakes.

The accounts spreading the fake news mostly post Russian propaganda and disinformation, which suggests a coordinated Russian fake news campaign about the Kharkiv Epicenter strike claiming that there was Ukrainian military equipment parked near the store.

Such fakes are primarily targeted at the domestic audience in Russia, as the Russian government claims that Russian troops only shells military objects in Ukraine. It also targets the small segment of Ukrainians which tends to trust Russian propaganda.

It will be recalled that on May 25, Russian troops fired two guided aerial bombs at the hardware mall Epicenter. Over 200 people were in the building at the moment of the strike. According to the latest data, 17 people were killed by the blast.

On March 20, 2022, Russian troops shelled the Retroville mall. Back then, a Kyiv resident posted a video showing the movement of Ukrainian troops online. The mall with the military stationed next to it was targeted by a powerful Russian strike.

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