Anyone that follows the Associated Press on Twitter just heard "news" of an unprecedented national crisis. "Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured," the AP's account tweeted moments ago. Thankfully onlookers were quick to call the tweet fake, no doubt aided by the fact that no other news agencies are reporting a dire situation at the White House. The formatting is also uncharacteristic of the style guide-enforcing AP, with a bizarre capitalization of "Explosions" and a reference to the president by his first name. The news wire has since confirmed its account has been hijacked, referring to the tweet in question as "bogus."
That is a bogus @ap tweet.— AP CorpComm (@AP_CorpComm) April 23, 2013
The (at)AP twitter account has been hacked. A tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise on acct. status.— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) April 23, 2013
But effects of the major hack — not the first to impact a news agency on Twitter — are already being felt. The Dow plummeted nearly 100 points following the worrying tweet, though stocks have largely bounced back from the dive.
The Associated Press account has since been suspended, an obvious measure to prevent further false information from being distributed by a typically reliable news source. The AP says today's intrusion came after hackers "made repeated attempts to steal the passwords of AP journalists" — a mission it would seem they ultimately succeeded at. One employee, Mike Baker, reveals that the hack came in close proximity to a phishing email received by AP staffers.
The @ap hack came less than an hour after some of us received an impressively disguised phishing email.— Mike Baker (@MikeBakerAP) April 23, 2013
As for who's behind the brief scare, the Syrian Electronic Army, which took credit for a hack against Reuters last year, has claimed responsibility. A tweet from the @AP_Mobile account (also currently suspended) reads "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here."
Update: An FBI spokesperson has confirmed to Bloomberg that the agency is looking into today's incident, no doubt owing to the severity of the falsified tweet.