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Fake Image Of The Pentagon On Fire Prompts Entire Stock Market To Dip

It paints a grim picture of the internet's future.

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Jack Dunhill

author

Jack Dunhill

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

Jack is a Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer for IFLScience, with a degree in Medical Genetics specializing in Immunology.

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

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The image made it look as if a large explosion had happened. 

Image credit: Ivan Cholakov/Shutterstock.com

In an entirely predictable but damning vision of the internet’s future, a fake photograph of the Pentagon on fire has prompted a brief dip in the stock market, showing just how important it is to get the AI-fueled misinformation crisis under control.  

Shared by a “verified” account (they paid $8 for a blue tick, that’s it) called “Bloomberg Feed”, the picture depicted smoke billowing out of the Pentagon after a supposed explosion, causing widespread speculation over a possible attack. The caption read, “Large Explosion near the Pentagon Complex in Washington D.C. - Initial Report”, clearly attempting to imitate an actual Bloomberg article. Obviously, the account was entirely fake and highlights an ongoing problem with Twitter’s paid verification process. 

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Soon, the tweet was shared by prominent Twitter users with large follower counts, causing the image to spread across social media and cause panic. It was even spread by RT, a Russian state media account with 3 million followers, and the markets took notice. 

According to Insider, Twitter user DeItaone with 650,000 followers shared the tweet at 10:06 am and the stock markets had dipped 0.26 percent by 10:10 am, just four minutes later. While that number isn’t huge, to happen in such a short timeframe likely indicates something spooked the markets. 

They have since recovered and most of the tweets sharing the content – including both RT's and DeItaone's – have since been deleted, but it provides the perfect opportunity to glimpse at a worrying future. The image has all the telltale signs of an AI-generated image – the building’s columns are all over the place, the fence weirdly bleeds into nothing, and the windows don’t align – so it is likely that someone plugged a prompt into a generative AI and shared it as a fake story. It is exactly what experts have been worrying about since ChatGPT, Midjourney, and more demonstrated their extensive capabilities. 

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Alongside that, it once again shows that the Twitter verification system is now deeply flawed since it became a subscription service, with a simple payment of $8 enough to fool the entire stock market. Seeing is no longer believing, as entirely fabricated events can be made into a convincing “photograph” in seconds, making it increasingly difficult to find fact from fiction, and verification systems therefore exist to signpost trusted outlets.  

We would reach out to Twitter for a comment, but it’s clear all we’d receive is a poop emoji


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technologyTechnology
  • tag
  • internet,

  • image,

  • twitter,

  • AI,

  • AI technology,

  • misinformation,

  • stock market,

  • disinformation

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