Fake News Prompts Pakistan-Israel Threats On Twitter
NEW DELHI: A fake news story ignited a tense Twitter confrontation between Pakistan and Israel, with the Pakistani Minister of Defence issuing a threat of sorts by referring to the country’s nuclear capacity.
In an apparent response to the fake news story -- that had claimed Israel’s former defence minister threatened a nuclear attack on Pakistan if Islamabad were to send troops to Syria -- Pakistan’s defence minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, warned Israel that “Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”
The Pakistani minister tweeted, “Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh.Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”
Israel responded to the threat the next day, also on Twitter, clarifying that the quote attributed to the former Israeli defence minister was “entirely false.”
The fictitious report was published on site AWD News, which has been identified by various fact checking sources as a fictitious site. It was headlined, “Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops to Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.”
The article, as originally published on AWD, misidentified Moshe Ya’alon as the Israeli defence minister (he had resigned in May) and wrongly identified Tariq Fatemi, Pakistan’s special assistant to the prime minister, as minister of state for foreign affairs. The story was later updated Ya'alon’s affiliation as former defence minister, but left the headline unchanged. Fatemi’s position too remained uncorrected.
None of this, however, deterred minister Asif from taking the story seriously, leading him to issue a threat of sorts to Israel by reminding the country of Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Although Asif did not respond to Israel’s clarification, the minister did tag the New York Times in a tweet after the publication described his original tweet as a “nuclear threat.”
Fake news sites have recently gained notoriety, as analysts have examined their role in political developments -- such as the US Presidential elections.
In a recent real world ramification of the proliferation of fake news, a man opened fire in a pizza restaurant, claiming he had come to investigate “pizzagate” -- a false conspiracy that said Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief John Podesta were running a child sex ring from the back rooms in the restaurant.