American news channel CNN tried to illustrate the scale and significance of Russian hacking by using a picture from a popular video game.
The broadcaster took the image from Fallout 4 and used it in a story about President Barack Obama’s decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats following accusations that the Kremlin interfered in the US presidential election.
The picture of a green screen with a series of incomprehensible words and numbers, appeared on both the TV channel and later featured in an online article.
But eagle eyed users of the Reddit website quickly spotted the image's origin.
In the Fallout 4 game, a player can hack computers to gain information or unlock doors and safes. This is achieved by solving word puzzles, something that bears little resemblance to actual hacking, the BRG website reported.
Russian hacking has become a hotly debate issue in recent months following Donald Trump's election victory.
US intelligence agencies—the CIA and FBI—have accused Russia of influencing November's election in order to help him win the presidency.
It is alleged that the email servers of officials from Hillary Clinton's Democratic Party were hacked by Russian cyber groups and their emails from senior figures made public via the Wikileaks website in the hope of damaging her campaign.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vehemently denied the accusations.
Mr Trump has also accused Mr Obama of exaggerating claims. He also claimed to know "things that other people don’t know” about the hacking, but refused to elaborate further.
The furore has lead to a quandary for broadcasters to find a way to make hacking look visually interesting on screen.
Reddit users mocked their usual efforts.
“If you want to talk about hacking on a major news network, your choices are either that or a scene from The Matrix”, one said.
CNN was contacted by The Independent for comment about the image but had not responded at the time of publication.
It is not the first major US broadcaster to be left red faced over its choice of stock imagery recently.
Last month, NBC News used a picture of former Labour leader Ed Miliband blowing his nose as a generic photo of “man with flu” to illustrate the upcoming flu season.
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