Concern about the effects of fake news racheted up a notch Sunday with a tweet from Pakistan’s defense minister threatening nuclear war with Israel on the mistaken belief Israel’s defense minister had threatened Pakistan if it sent troops to Syria.
Fake news has been credited with contributing to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
Now a typo-riddled fictitious story on AWD News was posted last Tuesday quoting former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Israel’s current defense minister is Avigdor Lieberman) as saying he would “destroy” Pakistan prompted a response Saturday from Pakistan's Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, threatening nuclear retaliation.
The Pakistan Defense Ministry said Pakistan would retaliate against any nation that threatened it but pointed out Asif was reacting to a fake story.
The Israeli Defense Ministry responded to Asif, saying Ya’alon never made the threat and called the AWD report false.
There was no subsequent response from Pakistan, but Asif was being criticized on Twitter for being taken in.
Israel has remained neutral in the nearly 7-year-old Syrian civil war.
The fact-checking site Snopes.com has said AWD has a record of promoting conspiracy theories and fake news. Among its fact-free scoops was a story alleging King Abdullah of Jordan had killed his wife in a Rome hotel room for having an affair. It also claimed the CIA tried to assassinate Trump.
Israel is believed to have had nuclear capability since the 1960s but never has acknowledged it. It has said it would not be the first country to “introduce” nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Pakistan became a nuclear power in 1998. Neither country has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nor do they have diplomatic relations. Pakistan has previously threatened India with a nuclear attack.
Fake news has proliferated on social media, even leading a North Carolina man to open fire on a Washington pizza restaurant Dec. 4, saying he was investigating an alleged child sex slave ring linked to Hillary Clinton operating from the restaurant. Edgar Welch, 28, is under federal indictment and could face five years in prison for firing multiple shots at the Comet Ping Pong restaurant. No one was injured.