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A claim circulating across social media appears to have convinced some that a man was arrested for re-creating classified U.S. military bases in the video game Minecraft. But the allegation is entirely fabricated.
The claim appeared last week in an Instagram post containing a screenshot of an alleged news article titled “Virginia man arrested for having Minecraft worlds that were exact replicas of classified US military bases.”
Uploaded by the account @bestofgamingmemes, the image does not indicate which news organization the story allegedly came from.
The story was also present on other social media platforms such as Twitter, where users argued that such an arrest would be unsurprising.
“I mean yeah… committing crimes on the computer can still be done, yes,” one user wrote. “Like giving away nuclear codes in a chat in Minecraft is also illegal. Why is that weird?”
Yet others were surprised and questioned how federal investigators could have found the purported Minecraft world.
“How the hell do you get caught for this?” the user asked. “Are the feds searching your Minecraft worlds?”
Unlike the image on Instagram, the photo shared on Twitter did include a banner from the news website it reportedly originated from: the Anchorage Daily News.
While the Anchorage Daily News is a legitimate media entity, the story is not. A search for the Minecraft story on the site yields no results.
Although the story is fake, a Russian teenager was actually sentenced earlier this year to five years in prison for plotting to blow up a Russian government building built in Minecraft. A Russian military court accused the 16-year-old boy of “training for terrorist activities.”
Yet for most of the world, arrests related to digital infrastructure in video games remains a highly unlikely occurrence.
So if you hear about someone getting arrested for invading Area 51 inside of Minecraft, make sure to double check whether the claim is actually true.
Why it matters
No matter how ridiculous a claim might sound, a segment of the population will still be susceptible to believing it. And with image-editing tools allowing fake news stories to be created in a matter of seconds, users online are urged to remain vigilant when any such image is shown without a link to the source.