TikTok users share video game footage as UFO sighting

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Social media posts claim to show footage of an unidentified flying object (UFO) being shot out of the sky by a fighter plane. This is false; the video comes from a combat simulation game.

"UFO gets shot down," says the caption of a February 14, 2023 TikTok post with more than 1.5 million views.

Screenshot of a TikTok post taken February 17, 2023

The video also spread on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Rumble, as well as in online articles.

The posts came amid the mid-February shootdowns of a Chinese surveillance balloon and three other unidentified objects over North America. The incidents have inspired a rash of posts that speculate about potential extraterrestrial involvement.

But the White House has said there is "no indication" of alien activity -- and the clip shared online does not show one of the incidents.

AFP conducted a reverse image search using keyframes from the video and discovered the footage was originally posted to TikTok on February 12, 2023. The same user also published the clip on YouTube.

"F-22 Raptor vs Drone in DCS | Digital Combat Simulator," the captions say.

Screenshot of a TikTok post taken February 17, 2023

DCS is a free-to-play combat simulation game from Eagle Dynamics that lets players operate military vehicles.

The posts are the latest to misrepresent video games as eyewitness footage. The phenomenon gained traction online after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

AFP reached out to Eagle Dynamics for comment, but a response was not forthcoming.