FOREST CITY, Iowa – We realize we shouldn’t believe everything we see online, but when something comes from a reputable source; it carries a lot of weight.
We saw that when the Twitter account of the Associated Press sent out a strange message yesterday afternoon.
This tweet was sent out by the official AP twitter account it read: “Breaking: Two explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”
“That would be a pretty scary tweet to read,” says Abbie Wibe, who is a communications major at Waldorf College in Forest City.
Even though the post was only up for a few minutes, the damage was done.
Thousands of Twitter uses had already re-tweeted it and the Dow plummeted 145 points between 12:08 and 12:10 pm as a result of the false report, although it recovered shortly after.
But many people like Wibe think there will definitely be repercussions.
“News sources are going to have to build up their reputation again even getting hacked shows vulnerability,” she explains.
The fake tweet was a result of the Associated Press’s account being hacked. Shortly after the incident, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility.
Waldorf professor Mark Johnson says it often takes a large group to accomplish something like this.
“The average person can’t do it but it doesn’t take a lot of work to find tools to do that again you need to be somewhat computer savvy to be able to use the tools,” he explains.
This group is experienced in hacking major websites; they’ve previously been able to access the websites of Al Jazeera and Harvard University.
“It’s sort of like a whack-a-mole, you know once somebody finds one way to breach then they incorporate security so maybe that breach doesn’t occur again,” adds Johnson.
So how do you know what information you can trust?
“Common sense, even like going to other news sources to see if anything else says that so research is going to become important,” says Wibe.
The Twitter account hacks hit close to home, as the group also reportedly hacked the CBS News and 60 Minutes accounts. All of the accounts that were suspended after the hacking are back up and running.