The power of social media: Fake tweet sends the Dow down

By Steve Savant

Ash Brokerage Corporation

A bogus tweet from the Associated Press read, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured." Although the fake tweet was taken down in two minutes, it was two minutes too late. It was re-tweeted over 1,500 times and sunk the Dow 140 points in seconds.

The market recovered after the tweet was confirmed false. Apparently, someone hacked into the AP Twitter feed and sent out the erroneous message. It could have been worse if it occurred at closing.

But this pirated act proves that information travels at near light speed in tweets and texts, through the power of social media and especially when done by a credible source like the AP. Cyber security is always an issue online, but two big players, Twitter and the AP, being hacked sent shock waves through the social media world. The hackers seemed to be posing as legitimate companies by “phishing,” a tactic to persuade account holders in surrendering their passwords.

Twitter has been chastised before for not buttressing their security, so this breach is another black eye. Password busting affecting the everyday user is one thing, but affecting the Dow is quite another. The consequences of a hack of this magnitude could be devastating, but it also reinforces how a creative tweet can catch the attention of consumers and trigger a call to action.