On April 23, the official twitter account for the Associated Press, was hacked for a few hours, during which time a tweet was sent that said there had been a terrorist attack on the white house, and that President Obama had been injured. Luckily, the information was completely false, although the results of which produced a drop in the New York stock exchange of 138 points on the Dow Jones index. That being said, the incident wasn’t the direct cause. What was the cause was the serious problem that occurs when information released on the Internet isn’t confirmed by readers.
Because this information came from a reputed agency, it caused a problem in a matter of minutes. Just a few minutes later, the agency released an official message in which they explained the misunderstanding and refuted the news. This later led to the temporary suspension of the Twitter account, which wasn’t back online until next day.
The Dow Jones is one of the most widely used indexes. It is a measure used in the economic sphere that serves as a weighted average of stock market activity of the thirty most powerful businesses in the U.S. It is a benchmark for the health of the stock market that is based on both the pure economic value as well as the national sentiment derived from important events. The problem is that following the mentioned tweet, the index fell 138 points, which could result in unimaginable damages on the country’s economy. Luckily, not long after the news was refuted, the levels went back to normal.
Or, in other words, unconfirmed, fraudulent information that was displayed in less than 140 characters, caused an alarming (albeit brief) impact on the economy. Even though it was quickly resolved, it has once again shown how vulnerable a non-secure medium of communication can be when it comes to releasing important information. Is it Twitter’s problem for not improving its security system? Beyond the obvious of taking the maximum precautions possible when offering a service of this kind, without a doubt it is the users who are at fault for allowing themselves to be deceived by volatile and unconfirmed information.
Today, Twitter is the greatest pro-globalization tool that exists – a window that opens up immediate information ahead of traditional media. But precisely because it is so efficient with information, misunderstandings and errors happen everyday. We shouldn’t forget that as we continue to delve into the increasingly convoluted communication technology, we must continue to maintain a key habit for relying on what we see and hear: confirm the information you read.
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