FBI investigating bogus White House tweet

A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army claims responsibility for hacking Associated Press Twitter account

The Twitter account of Associated Press was hacked yesterday sending out a false tweet about two explosions at the White House and that president Obama was injured. The stock market plunged briefly, but has been recovered since then. Photograph:  Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Twitter account of Associated Press was hacked yesterday sending out a false tweet about two explosions at the White House and that president Obama was injured. The stock market plunged briefly, but has been recovered since then. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 07:49

Hackers took control of the Associated Press Twitter account yesterday and sent a false tweet about explosions in the White House that briefly sent US financial markets reeling.

In the latest high-profile hacking incident involving social media service Twitter, an official @AP account reported that two explosions at the White House injured President Barack Obama.

AP spokesman Paul Colford quickly confirmed the tweet was “bogus,” and White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Mr Obama was fine, just minutes after the tweet hit a little after 1 pm local time.

But within three minutes of the tweet’s release, virtually all U.S. markets took a plunge on the false news in what one trader described as “pure chaos.”

The FBI and the US Securities and Exchange Commission both said they were probing the incident. FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer did not provide further details beyond confirming an investigation.

SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher told Reuters in an interview that the agency was looking into the bogus tweet’s impact on the markets.

“I can’t tell you exactly what the facts are at this point or what we are looking for, but for sure we want to understand major swings like that, however short it was,” Mr Gallagher said.

Reuters data showed the tweet briefly wiped out $136.5 billion of the S&P 500 index’s value before markets recovered. Some traders attributed the sharp fall and bounce-back to automatic electronic trading.

A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army, which is supportive of that country’s leader, president Bashar al-Assad, in its two-year civil war, claimed responsibility on its own Twitter feed for the AP hack.

The group has in the past taken credit for similar invasions into Twitter accounts of National Public Radio, BBC, CBS’ “60 Minutes” program and Reuters News.

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on yesterday’s breach, saying the company did not comment “on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”

Reuters