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Dr. Petroski
Dr. Petroski
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One Tweet, One Terrible Tuesday

on Thu May 24, 2018 9:02 pm
Message reputation : 100% (2 votes)

BREAKING: TWO EXPLOSIONS IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND BARACK OBAMA IS INJURED



At 1:07 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, April 23, the Associated Press sent the above message out through their Twitter account. Although @AP almost immediately clarified that the Tweet was written by a hacker—somebodywho broke into the account and posted the fake tweet—bythen it has been retweeted(sent by other users) nearly 3,000 times, resulting in a good deal of public panic, and to the surprise of many, a nearly one percent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Index. In other words, one false tweet caused the largest financial system in the world to momentarily crash. Following the initial tweet, stock markets recovered fairly quickly as news spread just as fast that the message was a fake. How did this happen? How did so many people read, believe, and share this information and do it so quickly? And how were we all duped enough to ripple through the stock market? [url=http://mentalfloss.com/article/50275/7-ways-wecould- tell-ap-tweet-was-fake]Mental Floss’s[/url] ArikaOkrentwent back the next day and reanalyzed the message and found seven ways in which the discerning news reader would have been able to spot the fraud immediately. For example, AP news stories always write the word “Breaking” in all capital letters (i.e., BREAKING). Also, the AP would never refer to the President of the United States as BarackObamawithout his formal title (i.e., President BarackObamaor President Obama). Looking closer, she also noticed that the tweet was not signed by the reporter who crafted it (AP tweets usually include the initials of the reporter), and also the tweet was not sent from the Social Flow media service to which the AP subscribes. Although the markets quickly recovered— indeed they closed the day up 152.29 points (a 1.05 percent gain from the opening mark)— this “flash crash” has many analysts revisiting their computer algorithms and their own people to build more critical thinking barriers into the information processing equation.


Have you ever been “duped” by something that you read online? Share your experience with us. Looking back, what might you have done differently to evaluate the information you found? Can you offer some advice to help others avoid falling into this trap? What if you're not sure if something is real or not? What can/should you do?


Last edited by Dr. Petroski on Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:03 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Dr. Petroski
Department of Communication
Southern Connecticut State University
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