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False Reports of Pentagon Explosion Spread on Twitter
A wave of panic swept through Twitter on Monday morning as a false report of an explosion at the Pentagon surfaced, accompanied by a seemingly AI-generated image. The incident caused a brief dip in the stock market before authorities clarified that it was all a hoax.
Joint Statement by Pentagon
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Arlington County fire department swiftly addressed the situation by issuing a joint statement on Twitter. They reassured the public that there was no explosion or incident occurring at or near the Pentagon reservation, emphasizing that there was no immediate danger to anyone.
AI-Generated Image Fuels Pentagon Explosion Misinformation
The hoax gained momentum due to a fabricated image circulating on Twitter, purporting to show a black cloud of smoke near a building, falsely claimed to be the Pentagon.
Experts in the field of artificial intelligence quickly pointed out that the image was likely generated by AI technology. This incident serves as an alarming example of the potential misuse of this increasingly prevalent technology.
Twitter Users Expose Flaws in Fake Pentagon Explosion Narrative
Investigator Nick Waters from the open-source investigations group Bellingcat scrutinized the circulating image on Twitter. He highlighted several inconsistencies, such as the peculiar frontage of the building and the seamless integration of the fence with crowd barriers.
Furthermore, the absence of additional images, videos, or firsthand witnesses raised suspicions about the authenticity of the image.
Following the spread of the false Pentagon explosion image, additional fabricated images started to surface, this time depicting an explosion at the White House. These images, also suspected to be AI-generated, added to the growing concern about the potential misuse of this technology.
Twitter’s Blue Check Dilemma
The credibility of the hoax was further enhanced by the involvement of numerous Twitter accounts with blue checks, previously indicating verified status. However, concerns were raised about the verification process when it was discovered that the social media platform now grants blue checks to accounts that subscribe to the monthly Twitter Blue service.
The incident involved accounts impersonating Bloomberg News and the official account of the Russian news service RT, which has links to the Kremlin. RT later deleted the post, and the fake Bloomberg account was suspended by Twitter.
When approached for comment, Twitter responded with an auto-reply containing a poop emoji, adding to the controversy surrounding the incident.