The New York Post and United Press International both falsely reported that a Chinese ship fired on a U.S. Navy ship.
But these outlets didn’t have a major fact-checking flop. They were hacked.
“Six fake headlines were posted in about 10 minutes” to the UPI account, the UPI said in a news report about the hack. UPI said it discovered the hack when it found a “‘breaking news’ banner touting” one of the fake stories posted on its homepage.
One of the fake tweets posted by the hackers to both the New York Post and UPI accounts read, according to the New York Daily News:
“US Joint Chief of staff: USS George Washington damaged, US navy now engaged in active combat against Chinese vessels in South China sea.”
The false headline, “BREAKING: Federal Reserve head Yellen announces bail-in emergency meeting, rumored negative rate to be set at 4pm EST today,” was posted to the Post‘s account, USA Today added.
The Post deleted the fake tweet and alerted followers: “Our Twitter account was briefly hacked and we are investigating.”
Our Twitter account was briefly hacked and we are investigating.
— New York Post (@nypost) January 16, 2015
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UPI also tweeted that Pope Francis said “World War III has begun” and that China’s president Xi Jinping “condemned” President Obama who “has forced China to protect its interests through military means.”
Another fake tweet posted to UPI, according to the AFP, claimed, “Just in: Bank of America CEO calls for calm: Savings accounts will not be affected by federal reserve decision.” Below see screenshots of the tweets, via CBS News:
UPI explained the bogus headlines, writing: “@UPI website, Twitter account hacked along with @nypost (World War III has not started, thankfully).”
CBS News noted that two news outlets’ Twitter accounts were hacked earlier this month — the Albuquerque Journal and Maryland TV news WBOC. The “cyberCaliphate” said it was responsible for those hacks, which included changing the accounts’ Twitter photos to a picture saying “I love isis.”
iMediaEthics is writing to UPI and the Post for comment.