As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, the Technology and Social Change team at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center is tracking media circulating about the conflict online. As we gather evidence of misinformation, disinformation, media manipulation, and social media mitigation, one of the most pervasive forms of false and confusing content we’ve seen across all internet platforms is the use of recontextualized media.
Recontextualized media is the use of an image, video, or audio clip posted in a different or false context than it was originally taken. In the middle of a breaking news cycle, the media ecosystem is ripe for exploitation using recontextualized media. Recontextualized media can be inserted into the news cycle online intentionally by disinformers who want to push an agenda or rack up engagement, or merely to troll, and they can be posted by people who sincerely believe the images are of the current crisis and want to share information with their networks on social media.