A fake image showing an explosion near the Pentagon circulated on social media on Monday, causing the market to drop momentarily as investors reacted to the misleading information.
Financial markets in the United States have been rocked by false information generated by artificial intelligence. The picture showing a large cloud of black smoke near the iconic Pentagon buildingwhich houses the headquarters of the Department of Defense, quickly went viral before being denied by the authorities.
The image was first shared on Twitter by a user named OSINTdefender, who describes himself as an “Open Source Intelligence Monitor”. Shortly after posting, the tweet caught the attention of other verified Twitter users, including a now-suspended account that impersonated Bloomberg News and went by the name @BloombergFeed, as well as the state media account Russians RT, which has more than 3 million subscribers.
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Financial markets disrupted by a false image
Once the image went viral, the S&P 500, one of the main stock market indices which measures the performance of 500 major publicly traded companies in the United States, recorded a momentary drop of 0.26% as uncertainty spread. However, the market quickly rallied when it became clear that the image was fabricated and lacked credibility.
Experts have notably highlighted several discrepancies between the image and the real structure of the Pentagon, suggesting the possible involvement of generative artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. The authorities were quick to react and assure the public that there had been no explosion or incident near the Pentagon. The Arlington, Va., Fire Department also said there was no immediate danger to the public.
Fortunately, this allowed investors to regain their composure. The market has therefore gradually recovered from the temporary drop caused by the dissemination of the faked image.. This incident is a stark reminder of the challenges posed by misinformation in the age of social media and the need to be critical in the face of sensationalist content. It is more important than ever to verify information before sharing it. Some AIs have already taken measures, Midjourney having for example closed free access because of the proliferation of deepfakes.