AI-generated photo of the Pentagon explosion went viral on Twitter and caused the stock market to crash
A fake on behalf of a verified Bloomberg account has raised concerns about the new social network account verification system.
A fake AI-generated photo circulating on Twitter* depicts an explosion at the Pentagon. The situation exacerbated the problem with the program Twitter Blue, which allows you to get a blue tick for money.
The fake photo was posted on May 22 and immediately went viral, so much so that the US government was forced to dismiss the image as misinformation. Among the “verified” Twitter accounts accused of spreading false information were the media and a fake Bloomberg News account that had blue verification checkmarks to increase user confidence.
“No explosion or incident occurs on or near the Pentagon, and there is no immediate danger or threat to the public,” the US authorities said in a statement.
Arlington Fire Department and Ambulance Service also refuted image, notifying subscribers that the Pentagon is aware of the false claim.
In addition, OSINT specialists analyzed the image, pointing out inconsistencies that easily prove that the image was indeed generated by artificial intelligence.
Bellingcat Researcher Nick Waters said that “it is very difficult and even almost impossible to create a plausible forgery of such an event.” Notable signs of forgery, he said, included “the façade of the building and the way the fence blends in with the crowd barriers.”
For such a big news, it was also suspicious that there were no other photo or video evidence from eyewitnesses on the Internet. According to experts, most extreme events in populated areas (explosions, terrorist attacks, mass fights) have a recognizable digital footprint.
A much bigger problem here lies in the Twitter account verification system. At first, a blue check was issued only after the company could prove the legitimacy of the organization or individual. Now the blue verification checkmark is freely issued to any profile willing to pay as little as $8 per month for it.
The platform has suspended an account with a fake Bloomberg news story, but it is not yet known where this generated image of the Pentagon came from. Even though the news of the Pentagon explosion spread on Twitter for a short period of time, this time was enough to cause a significant drop in the New York Stock Exchange.
* The social network is prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation.