Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Pakistan’s defense minister, issued the nuclear threat against Israel based on a fake news story. Asif wrote a sword sharpening tweet on Twitter aimed at Israel on Friday. A false report stated Israel threatened Pakistan with nuclear bombardment. Pakistan was ready to fire back with its own nukes. Asif’s tweet said:
“Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh,” the minister wrote on his official Twitter account, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”
Apparently, the article came from a fake news site. In addition, the inauthentic story misidentifies a prominent, relevant individual: Israel’s current minister of defense.
“The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said,” the ministry wrote in Twitter post directed at Mr. Asif. The Israeli ministry added in a second post: “Reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false.”
Fake news stories have become a serious public issue — all because of money. Owners of these sites want to increase traffic to their websites to generate advertising revenue. Eventually, the news goes viral and deceives many. Perpetrators include governments and people with dollar signs for irises.
College Student Joins the Fake News Business
Beqa Latsabidze, an enterprising college student from the country of Georgia joined the fake news story business. He noticed the attention United States partisan politics received. First, he started writing stories about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He quickly found, however, that pro-Donald Trump articles garnered more viewers and money. And the money from Google ads rolled in. It did for many others too.
In fact, some pundits believe fake news stories reached more people than articles by mainstream news organizations. This is dangerous to news reporting. Many people read the ‘shocking’ headline of a fake news story, not the story itself.
Mr. Latsabidze believes the articles are a form of infotainment. He does not see how anyone could take the articles as authentic. But creators of these websites are not completely forthright about the site’ nature. Many do not state that the site functions as mere satire. Lack of disclosure plus the ad revenue scheme suggests the creators want to make as much money as possible. That rings true when Latsabidze’s monthly revenue crept up to $6,000 one month.
The behavior speaks volumes. For instance, Mr. Latsabidze said in an interview regarding a fake Mexican border closing story.
A Drop in Business Post-Election
“Nobody really believes that Mexico is going to close its border,” he said, sipping coffee this week in a McDonald’s in downtown Tbilisi. “This is crazy.”
After he posted a story on Mexico closing its border was well-received, he made additional posts on the same topic. He continued to do so until the money well began to drive up. The New York Times reports:
“For now, the postelection period has been bad for business, with a sharp fall in the appetite for incendiary political news favoring Mr. Trump. Traffic to departed.co and affiliated websites has plunged in recent weeks by at least 50 percent, Mr. Latsabidze said.”
‘If Hillary had won, it would be better for us,’ he said. “[Latsabidze] could write about the bad things she was going to do,” he said. ‘I did not write to make Trump win. I just wanted to get viewers and make some money’.”
There are many around the world who may feel the same way. And like Latsabidze are ready to get back into the fake news story business.
Source: New York Times