Chemical weapons warning causes unexpected laughter

The original tweet. Image copyright Twitter

When the Russian embassy in London tweeted the alarming news that "extremists near Aleppo" had taken delivery of chemical ammunitions, the warning wasn't taken entirely seriously by some readers.

The reason for this was the image chosen to illustrate the worrying claim. It wasn't a photo taken by a drone camera flying over a Syrian battlefield or grainy satellite imagery. In fact, as many gamers quickly spotted, the view of three army trucks on a sandy terrain was actually taken from a video game called Command & Conquer: Generals. Intelligence training isn't required to locate the original image.

Image copyright Command&Conquer/Wikia

Some commentators pointed out that the embassy wasn't trying to fool anybody as the image was clearly marked as being for "illustration purposes only". But that soon got lost in a torrent of memes and other online mockery related to the source of the picture of those trucks in the desert.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

Another Twitter user pointed to the "secret hideout" of the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, by using a screengrab of a desert town, apparently from Minecraft.

Image copyright Twitter

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Another used a screengrab from DOOM II Wolfenstein, with a swastika banner in the background, to ridicule Russian claims about extreme right wingers in Ukraine.

Image copyright Twitter

This user tweeted an image from a shoot-em-up game to deliver a tongue-in-cheek warning to embassy staff.

Image copyright Twitter

The use of a computer game picture to illustrate a tweet with such a serious message may seem odd. But, according to BBC Monitoring, the Twitter feed of the Russian embassy in Britain has a record of being more interesting than the average diplomatic social media account. For example, it tweets images of Russian scenery and cute animals to accompany daily "Good morning!" messages. And the embassy posted an image of zombies in Nazi uniform to indicate Russia's intention to battle Nazism.

The UK arm is not the only Russian mission to adopt an unusual Twitter policy. Last year the Russian embassy in the UAE tweeted an image of a "picture puzzle" asking readers to "arm the right Syrian rebel group".

Blog by Dmytro Zotsenko

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