A fake news story that reported that Israel had threatened to destroy Pakistan by use of nuclear weapons has garnered a cutting response from Pakistan warning Israel that they aren’t the only nation that has nuclear weapons.
It is thought that this may be the first occasion that a fake news article has caused such a potentially lethal backlash by a nation. The story had broken on AW news. A site that has been identified for breaking fake news stories, but this obviously hasn’t reached the military powers in Pakistan. The Pakistani defence minister took to Twitter to warn Israel that it too had nuclear capability. Israel’s ministry of defence took to Twitter to inform them that the news was indeed fake. There has been no further contact between the two countries, not at least on Twitter anyway.
This once again brings fake news to the focus of the world. Believed to have at least had a hand in Britain’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, fake news spreads like wildfire and is put in front of audiences who believe in the authenticity of the story. Much of this news is spread through social media, especially on sites like Facebook, which has done little to turn the tide against the stories, and has been highly criticised for not doing so.
With the explosion of companies producing news media through social media in recent years, the social media sector has struggled to contain the problem. Nowhere is this more pervasive than on Facebook. With millions of users, the network is the ideal way to get news in front of a large audience, and has been heavily exploited by unscrupulous individuals looking to cause a stir. On this occasion they’ve certainly got attention. Many in the world will indeed wonder why on earth a senior minister hasn’t checked the source of the story, but that aside the fragility of the middle east could’ve been thrown in to turmoil on such a story.
Obviously in this instance the story is more believable as it concerns Israel. They take a hard line in the region and are known for shows of force. Although this would be completely out of character for the nation which has never admitted to having nuclear weapons openly. Though it’s fairly well understood that they do.
The most worrying part is the seriousness of what could’ve happened if neither side had backed down. All around the world, governments are trying to tackle the growth of fake news. But stopping it altogether may be next to impossible, we all just hope that sources are better investigated next time.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.