The United Nations’ Russian-language Twitter feed chose a peculiar image to illustrate the horrors of chemical warfare: a screenshot from the post-apocalyptic video game Fallout 3.
“The use of toxins in Vietnam, burning oilfields during [the 1991 Gulf War] in Kuwait. Kosovo, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Liberia, Ukraine – all these countries sustain significant environmental damage during hostilities,” the UN account tweeted on Wednesday, referencing a list of countries scarred by chemical weapons, many of them at the hands of the United States.
However, the graphic image of levelled buildings beneath a radiation-choked sky that accompanied the tweet wasn’t taken in an actual warzone. Instead, it came from Fallout 3, a video-game set in the irradiated, post-apocalyptic wasteland of a nuked Washington DC.
Though not visible in the screenshot, the world of Fallout 3 is inhabited by rabid super-mutants and roving packs of bandits, all depicted with a 1950s-style retro-futuristic twist.
If the 2008 graphics (which is in itself a bit retro) managed to fool the UN’s social media team, at least the copyright text at the bottom corner should have been a giveaway.
Few commenters reacted to the tweet’s actual message – most, instead, joked at the visual slip-up, referencing the game’s tagline: “War…war never changes.” The tweet was soon deleted.
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To be fair, the UN is not the only organization to be caught out in the same way. CNN was slated in 2017 for using screengrabs from Fallout 4’s ‘hacking’ minigame as eye-candy in a story on “Russian Hacking,” prompting laughter and cries of “fake news.”
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