The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged within minutes early this afternoon, after somebody hacked an AP Twitter account and posted a bogus tweet saying the White House had been attacked.
The Dow, which had been up about 130 points, fell into the red within two minutes, and then bounced back just as quickly as it became obvious that the “news” was false, and a prank.
The story was immediately debunked by the White House. Jay Carney debunks AP Twitter hack: ‘The president is fine’. WSJ remarked that the tweet was retweeted over 1800. Obviously, it reached some pretty important people. It’s not clear how many times the retweets were retweeted.
Twitter and other instant rumor spreaders were under scrutiny last week during the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. I admit I was on the police scanner site tweeting what the officers were saying. Of course, not even that can be confirmed. The officers have no verification. So, I quit doing that. People wondered if that even might trigger a Twitter blackout. Here is a piece by Wired I found today.
Last week, Twitter was a breaking news machine. It’s done this before, of course, but this time given its growing size, the sensational nature of the crimes, and the fast-moving situation, it was on an entirely larger scale. But now that the dust has settled, we should come to grips with what happened. It’s a scale we need to get used to: This is the way it’s going to be from now on. The future of news dissemination is the crowd, or maybe even the mob.
There’s no retreating from this new reality. We are all going to muddle through live news together for the foreseeable future. You, me, Jake Tapper, some random guy on Reddit, everyone. The gates have been crashed. Breaking news has always been messy and hard, but now we’re all involved. And we could really use some better tools.
This is a good piece on how correction mechanisms have been proposed for Twitter but they have not come along. I would really like to see this. We try to correct stories that we get wrong but the same people may not see the correction. This is a problem. But, hey, we have technology, we should be able to do better than this. Instant news feeds aren’t going away.