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Summary:

Financial markets briefly plunged after hackers took over the AP’s account and reported a disaster in Washington.

AP_Logo_tout4

Hackers published a fake tweet from the Twitter account of the Associated Press Tuesday morning, describing explosions at the White House and an injury to President Obama. The White House quickly refuted the tweet but the news briefly caused stock markets to plunge 1 percent before recovering. Here’s how the Dow looked today:

Dow Jones screenshot

Twitter has since suspended the account and the AP issued the following statement: “Advisory: @AP Twitter account has been hacked. Tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible.”

The episode shows again, as it did during the Boston tragedy, the mischief that can occur as a result of huge number of people instantly relaying false information through false tweets. The Anonymous hacker news account, for instance, saw its reporting of the message retweeted almost 500 times:

In the last year, Twitter has become an essential news source not only for news outlets but for the financial community. This month, Bloomberg incorporated Twitter feeds into its terminals while the SEC gave companies the green light to use it for relating market moving news.

Update: The AP has since issued this tweet from a separate account associated with its political news outlet:

  1. Paige Baker Burton Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    This is the price we pay for instant news….

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  2. Why the assumption that the account was hacked, couldn’t it be a rogue employee looking to short the stock market?

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    1. The S&P 500 took its nose dive, then recovered, within a 7 minute interval. You’re right; it *could* have been motivated by market manipulation and profit-taking. I don’t think that is likely, given the alleged perpetrators, SyrianElectronicArmy @Official_SEA6 with photo:

      Sigh…

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  3. Reblogged this on gabriel catalano and commented:
    Update: The AP has since issued this tweet from a separate account associated with its political news outlet:

    All, AP’s Twitter accounts will be suspended until we can be assured of their security. Do not respond to any news posted by these accounts.—
    AP Politics (@AP_Politics) April 23, 2013

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