At 1:07 pm (April 23, US eastern time), a tweet from the Associated Press exclaimed "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured." It was a hoax, but within seconds, Wall Street was in panic mode, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average into free-fall. The Dow, eventually, erased the hoax-fueled losses and closed up 152 points to 14,719.
There was a sigh of relief as the White House issued assurances that the president was safe. "The president is fine," spokesman Jay Carney said.
The Associated Press also quickly revealed that its Twitter account had been hacked and said the tweet was fake. It said the tweet came after several previous attempts had been made to hack into its account.
Meanwhile, the AP incident poses a risk to Twitter's brand as a source for breaking news, and also puts pressure on the company to rework on its security.
The hoax also underscored the vulnerability and panic driven damage in 24/7 news environment. The cyber attack by Syrian Electronic Army is likely erode public's faith in business, government and the news media.
On Monday, banking security firm Trusteer had disclosed that it found malicious software for sale designed to steal Twitter credentials from infected PCs.
In the cyber underground, stolen account credentials, personal information and payment card numbers are sold to the highest bidders or posted for free by hacktivists, to make an ideological point.