Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fake Tweet Sends Stocks Plummeting

As many articles have already made clear, Americans will react to news that sounds like terrorism.

Today's fake tweet shows how sensitive consumers of information really are.

A hack attack on the Associated Press' Twitter account resulted in "an erroneous tweet" claiming that two explosions occurred in the White House and that President Barack Obama was injured. It didn't take long (2 minutes) for Twitter to suspend the @AP Twitter account.

More than 4,000 retweets later, the credibility of the message was dealt a fatal blow when an AP spokesperson told NBC News the news was false.

Like the EKG of a country, the Dow Jones industrial average just after 1 p.m. shows the collective heartbeat (above). More than 140 points was lost in a flash. Five minutes later much of the loss was regained.

According to Bob Sullivan, NBC News: "It's incredible what a single 12-word lie can do."

How could being an investigative searcher make a breaking lie less effective?

Fact checking the accuracy of the claim is a little trickier in the case of Twitter. Breaking news often comes through this channel before being picked up by major news.

That is probably the clue. AP wouldn't be the first to break the news. Someone on the scene would have said it first; AP would carry it a minute or more later. All one would have to do is look for the source of the AP tweet.

Not being able to find an earlier tweet about this news is the tell-tale sign about its credibility.  A good search engine for tweets is topsy.comhttp://topsy.com. Check it out before you react with your gut.

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