During conflicts and other unprecedented events, children can be weaponized in order to elicit support. One shocking video showed children held in cages with social media users claiming these were Israeli babies kidnapped by Hamas. Turns out the clip was staged.
Since Hamas militants stormed into Israel on the 7th of October, a flood of videos and photos has filled social media, making it difficult for users to sort fact from fiction.
In any conflict or unprecedented event, children can become targets and objects of disinformation in order to bolster support for each warring side.
Here's a look at some of the most viral and misleading clips using children to spread disinformation.
A staged video of 'kidnapped Israeli children' goes viral
Multiple accounts claimed these were Israeli children kidnapped by Hamas militants. In the audio, the perpetrator is behind the camera and can be heard laughing.
When The Cube first came across the video, there were a few details that made us wary of its legitimacy including the fact that the cage wasn't locked.
The video uploaded to TikTok also reuses an audio of a man laughing which had been previously shared on the platform since at least mid-July.
According to FakeReporter, an Israeli fact-checking website, the original TikTok video was posted three to four days before Hamas launched its offensive.
However, the account was suspended for a few days and the video was deleted which made the investigation complicated.
The Spanish fact-checking site Maldita found a second video of the same children, this time sitting outside a house, published on the 8th of October by the same TikTok account.
Just a few days ago, the account behind the viral and shocking video was restored. The man behind it published an explainer in which he clarified the children are actually his relatives and have nothing to do with the conflict.
More than a million people fled their homes in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israel ground offensive.
The conflict has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides, with more than 4,000 people killed including hundreds of children, according to UNICEF.
An old video from Syria used to spread disinformation
It purports to show a Palestinian child in Gaza crying after an attack orchestrated by the Israeli army.
But after doing a reverse image search, Euronews found the original YouTube video and it actually dates back to 2014.
According to the caption, the video was filmed in Homs, Syria, and shows a boy crying following the death of his sister.
The viral video of a lost Israeli girl predates the escalation
A video of two men asking a girl the whereabouts of her parents has been falsely claimed to show an Israeli girl with her Palestinian kidnappers.
But the original video was posted on TikTok in September 2023, a month before Hamas's surprise attack.
Another clue the video has been miscaptioned is that the girl responds to the men by pointing in a direction, seemingly able to understand what is being said - which could be seen as unlikely for an Israeli girl to understand Arabic.