“Hactivism” and Social Media Vulnerability

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If the Associated Press Twitter account can be hacked to send a hoax message that President Obama had been injured in an explosion at the White House, that leaves gaping holes in the issue of Internet security.

At 1:07 p.m. ET on April 24, a tweet from the Associated Press exclaimed: “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”  Wall Street rapidly entered panic mode, and the stock market took a nosedive.

The Associated Press quickly revealed its Twitter account was a hacked fake, the White House issued assurances that the president was safe, and traders breathed a sigh of relief as the stock market rebounded.

“This is yet another reminder that social media isn’t simply banal messages about breakfast between teenagers, but that it can have massive, real-world consequences,” says Jeff Hancock, a Cornell University communications and information science professor. “Our trust of social media has reached new levels. (Wall Street’s) response also highlights that humans have a built-in truth bias to believe what others say. Although there is a lot of suspicion about the Internet in general, the truth bias is alive and well with social media.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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