The United States isn't the only country dealing with the influx of fake news and the hysteria that sometimes follows it.
German media outlets and government officials are now warning against fake news after a false story was published by the rightwing, U.S.-based website, Breitbart.
The fake news story, which was circulated on social media, falsely claimed that a mob shouting "Allahu Akbar" vandalized and set fire to a church in the city of Dortmund on New Year's Eve, according to The Guardian.
After the fake news circulated, police came forward to say that no such incident occurred.
Eva Kühne-Hörmann, the justice minister of Hesse state told The Guardian that the danger of these stories is how quickly they spread, despite not being rooted in truth.
The Breitbart story, for instance, falsely claimed that the angry mob "launched fireworks at police and set fire to a historic church," and later gathered "around the flag of al-Qaida and Islamic State collaborators the Free Syrian Army.”
A local German newspaper told The Guardian that the false story combined unconnected incidents to promote the idea of "foreigners promoting terrorism."
The paper noted that stray fireworks did spark a fire at a church in Dortmund, but it was quickly put out. In addition, Dortmund police said there were less New Year's Eve incidents this year than previous ones.
The fake story and the controversy it sparked only highlights the growing divide between supporters of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming stance toward refugees and the rightwing movement, which opposes immigration.
This could be only a taste of what's to come, according to German paper, Bild. The paper warned that Breitbart may soon launch German and French language sites, which may only add to the political tension.
We must expose the far-right disinformation & fake news spread by Breibart & others.They seek to divide us.https://t.co/YJlEm0Mi5y— Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt) January 7, 2017
Breitbart published another story railing against the German press for dismissing the report.