Hackers caused brief panic and a sharp, but temporary, market dip Tuesday afternoon by falsely reporting a bombing at the White House. The incident occurred after the official Associated Press Twitter account sent the following message at 1:07 p.m. EST:
The report was almost immediately discredited and the AP’s Twitter account was taken down until control could be wrestled from the unidentified hackers.
The markets sharply dropped upon release of the tweet, but regained their losses within minutes after the tweet was revealed to be a hoax. The White House also made an official comment about the situation, with Press Secretary Jay Carney telling the press corps that no explosions had occurred and that the President was fine. “I was just with him,” Mr. Carney added.
Julie Pace, the AP’s White House Correspondent, also stated that the organization’s account had been hacked: “It appears as though AP’s Twitter account has been hacked, so anything that was just sent out about any incident at the White House is obviously false.”
The hacking of news outlets and organizations has become unfortunately common, and many members of the press have become accustomed to at least a cursory fact check of information. However, in the wake of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon last week, the dangerous ricin-laced letters sent to government officials, and the foiled terrorist attack of a U.S.-bound Canadian train, citizens and investors alike are sensitive to news involving yet another tragedy.
The AP’s Twitter account remains suspended as of the time of publication.
Featured image via Independence Day (1996), 20th Century Fox.