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Fake Pentagon attack hoax shows dangers of paid Twitter verification

Literally surprising no one, the combination of paid blue checks and generative AI makes it all too easy for misinformation to spread. On Monday morning, an apparently AI-generated image of an explosion at the Pentagon circulated the internet, even though the event didn’t actually happen.

Within about half an hour, the image appeared on a verified Twitter account called “Bloomberg Feed,” which could very easily be mistaken for a real Bloomberg-affiliated account, especially since it had a blue check mark. This account has since been suspended. The Russian state-controlled news network TR also shared the image, according to screenshots users captured before the tweet was deleted. Several Twitter accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers, such as From Itaone, OSINT defender And Whale chart shared it. Even a Indian Television Network reported the fake Pentagon explosion. The origin of this false image and this news is not immediately clear.

It’s far from the first time a fake image has managed to fool the internet, but the stakes are higher when the fake event is an explosion at a US government building, rather than the pope wearing a Balenciaga coat. Some have reported that the fake picture could be linked to a 25 basis point move in the S&P 500, but the decline didn’t last long, and there’s no way to prove it was entirely the result of this hoax. The incident raises the question of how generative AI could be used to game the stock market in the future – after all, Reddit did.

Misinformation is a problem as old as the internet, but the simultaneous growth of generative AI and changes to Twitter’s verification system provide particularly fertile ground. From the start, Twitter owner Elon Musk’s plan to strip existing blue checks from their status and let anyone pay for the symbol was a waste. While we know blue checks no longer indicate legitimacy, it’s hard to break a visual habit you’ve cultivated for almost 15 years: if you see an account called “Bloomberg Feed” that shows a blue check on a attack on the Pentagon, you’re probably predisposed to think it’s real. As it becomes increasingly difficult to spot fake images, we will only continue to see fake news stories like this in the future.

techcrunch Gt

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