On Monday, the stock market took a momentary fall when a bogus image circulating on Twitter purported to show an explosion near the Pentagon. Officials from the area afterwards stated there was no such occurrence.
Multiple blue-checked accounts, including one that falsely claimed to be affiliated with Bloomberg News, shared the image, which had all the signs of being made by artificial intelligence.
An photograph purporting to depict black smoke rising from near a major building was shared alongside the account’s original allegation of a “large explosion” near the Pentagon complex in Washington, DC.
Twitter has since removed the account. Neither the origin of the image nor its creator could be determined. Twitter, now owned by Elon Musk, offers verified accounts to anyone for a monthly fee. As a result, having an account verified by Twitter is no longer evidence that it belongs to the organization or person it claims to represent.
A major Indian television network also aired the fabricated explosion stories. Republic TV broadcast the phony image and cited claims from the Russian news agency RT to claim that an explosion had taken place. As it turned out, the incident never happened, so the report was retracted.
“Republic had aired news of a possible explosion near the Pentagon citing a post & picture tweeted by RT,” the outlet later posted on its Twitter account. “RT has deleted the post and Republic has pulled back the newsbreak.”
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For further information, CNN has contacted RT, Bloomberg, and Twitter. The US stock market experienced a sharp decline in the minutes after the image began trending on Twitter. Between 10:06 and 10:10 AM, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by almost 80 points, before regaining all of its losses by 10:13 AM.
The broader S&P 500 index also fell from being up 0.02% at 10:06 a.m. to being down 0.15% at 10:09 a.m. At 10:11 am, the index had once again turned up. The experts agree that the image does not depict the Pentagon and that there are indications that it was made with artificial intelligence.
“This image shows typical signs of being AI-synthesized: there are structural mistakes on the building and fence that you would not see if, for example, someone added smoke to an existing photo,” Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and digital forensic expert told CNN.
The Pentagon’s Force Protection Agency and the Arlington, Virginia, fire department later replied to the online rumor that there had been an explosion near the building with a tweet saying they were “aware of a social media report circulating online about an explosion near the Pentagon. There is NO explosion or incident taking place at or near the Pentagon reservation, and there is no immediate danger or hazards to the public.”
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