Hackers send fake market-moving AP tweet on White House explosions

Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:01pm EDT
 
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By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hackers took control of the Associated Press Twitter account on Tuesday and sent a false tweet about explosions in the White House that briefly sent U.S. 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 Obama was fine, just minutes after the tweet hit a little after 1 p.m. (1700 GMT).

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." (For a graphic, see link.reuters.com/hyz57t)

The FBI and the U.S. 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," 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.   Continued...

 
The White House is seen from the South Lawn in Washington October 17, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing