Snapshot of Syria's Ministery of Information website.
(photo credit: SCREENSHOT ARAB MEDIA)
Rumors of Syrian President Bashar Assad's demise spread quickly throughout the social media landscape Monday after the country's Ministry of Information became the target of a cyber attack.
"There was an attempt to poison his Excellency Bashar Assad. He was infected by a contagious, dangerous disease and is in grave condition," read a message apparently posted by hackers on the ministry's homepage for several hours. "Doctors are at the president's side and are trying to save his life."
News of the dictator's alleged ill health spread shortly after the posting, causing confusion among the government and military along with the social media sphere.
Locked out of the ministry's system for several hours, government employees turned to Facebook to deny there was an attack against Assad and update viewers on his actual, living condition.
"The announcement that President Assad was poisoned is false and has no basis," the social media post read, adding "the news was planted by a hacker."The Jerusalem Post's
sister publication Ma'ariv
noted that as of Monday the message announcing Assad's poisoning had yet to be removed from the Syrian ministry's website.
It was not clear whether this was due to technical reasons or an attempt by authorities to locate the parties responsible.