Pakistan’s defense minister threatened Israel that his country could use nuclear weapons after a fake news report that his Israeli counterpart had threatened “nuclear retaliation” for Islamabad’s role in Syria against ISIS, highlighting the serious problem proliferation of fake news poses.
A report in the New York Times said a fake news story prompted Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to threaten to go nuclear.
In a post on Twitter, Asif lashed at Israel after a false report – which the minister apparently believed – that Israel had threatened Pakistan with nuclear weapons.
The NYT report said Asif appeared to be reacting to the fake news article published on awdnews.com, which was titled ‘Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops to Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack’.
The article had appeared on the website on December 20, alongside articles with headlines like ‘Clinton is staging a military coup against Trump’.
The fake story about Israel even misidentified the country’s defence minister, attributing quotations to a former minister, Moshe Yaalon. Israel’s current minister of defence is Avigdor Lieberman.
The Israeli Defence Ministry responded on Twitter to say the report was fictitious.
“The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said,” the ministry wrote in Twitter post directed at Asif.
@KhawajaMAsif The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) December 24, 2016
@KhawajaMAsif reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) December 24, 2016
The NYT report added that the proliferation of fake news stories, spread on social networks and produced by a variety of sources including pranksters, foreign governments and enterprising individuals who hope to receive advertising revenue by driving traffic to their websites, has become an increasingly serious problem.