Even though Twitter is often hailed as a fast and reliable source of information for both journalists and everyone else, every now and then a fake news breaks out so beautifully that one can only stand and watch as everything goes haywire.
But when your fake tweets include ISIS, Iraq and Shia militias, things can get really ugly, really fast. Luckily for everyone involved, this one didn't go that far.
An Iraqi man who lives in London named Ahmad al-Mahmoud, runs a Twitter account called @IraqSurveys. The account usually collates serious news about what's happening in the country, and has nearly 14,000 followers, BBC writes in a report.
But one day he „got bored“, and tweeted that Islamic State had withdrawn from Shichwa.
Shichwa is Iraqi Arabic for "cheese bladder," a traditional method of making dairy products. Al-Mahmoud thought that would have tipped people off. However, the exact contrary happened.
Twitter users that back anti-IS forces claimed a famous victory. "Big celebrations in Karbala after the freedom of Shichwa," said one. Another claimed "10,000 refugees flee Shichwa to Karbala" and rumours spread that neighbouring countries were being dragged into the fighting: "Disaster: the Saudi Army must quickly mobilize to the Iraqi border."
Some even made maps of the Iraqi border where Shichwa apparently is. He let the prank evolve for two days before calling it quits. In an interview with BBC, he says what he did wasn't irresponsible.
"It wasn't something serious. Any Iraqi should have known what a shichwa is."
fake battle was essentially teasing the militias to see if they would seize upon the news to claim victory. And to that end, he says, the prank worked.