The terrifying consequences of fake news was illustrated when Pakistan’s defence minister threatened to attack Israel with nuclear missiles.
He responded to a false news article suggesting Israel had threatened Pakistan with nuclear obliteration if it sent forces into Syria.
Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s sinister threat read: ‘Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.’
The New York Times said he was responding to a bogus article on awdnews.com in which it was claimed Israel’s Defence Minister had said: ‘If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.’
Pakistan and Israel both have nuclear arsenals.
Mr Asif appeared to accept the article at face value, despite the fact that it mentioned Israel’s former defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, rather than Avigdor Lieberman, who took over in May.
Israel’s Defence Ministry responded to Mr Asif’s tweet, denying the Israeli defence minister had made the original statement cited in the fake news article.
‘The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said,’ the Israeli Defence Ministry on its official Twitter account.
‘Reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false,’ it added.
Senior police officers, politicians and journalists have become increasingly worried about the phenomenon of fake news in recent months.
Earlier this month a man was arrested for firing a gun in a pizza restaurant in Washington DC, having reportedly come to investigate a bogus story about the pizzeria being at the heart of a child sex slave ring linked to Hillary Clinton.
AWD News has a reputation for promoting clickbait and conspiracy theories, including that King Abdullah of Jordan murdered his wife Queen Rania, who is in fact alive and well.