A cautionary lesson on the power of social media occurred to one of the most powerful and respected institutions in journalism on Tuesday. The Associated Press’s Twitter sent out this incredibly serious and grave tweet to its followers around roughly 1:00 P.M. on Tuesday:
Naturally, this kind of news would have become one of the biggest breaking stories of the newsday. There is one problem with that, however. It is not true.
It turns out that the AP’s Twitter account was hacked by an unknown assailant or group. The tweet was immediately retweeted by thousands and briefly caused confusion as the press tried to figure out whether it was real or fake.
One group has claimed authority for the attacks, although there is no way of verifying it at the time. The Syrian Electronic Army, who has claimed credit for hacking the social media accounts of numerous news organizations, took credit for the hack of the AP's twitter.
The organization also apparently hacked other accounts associated with the AP.
In response to the tweet, Twitter completely suspended the AP’s twitter account and deleted the tweet in question. But it caused a stir, even briefly disrupting financial markets. The image below clearly shows a very short crash when the whole episode hit Wall Street.
The White House even responded to the rogue Tweet, issuing a statement to news organizations.
But after the truth of the whole scenario came about, jokes began to stream in about the incident:
Despite the humor that resulted, the fall in the stock market, and the fact that the White House had to respond to something that easily could have been checked by Washington press bureaus, this incident instantly demonstrates the power that social media has attained even in old school journalism.