The White House’s response to fake tweets? Pretend they never happened


Some say the best way to neutralize a lie is by not dignifying it with a direct response – that seems to be the official White House protocol when it comes to misleading and fake information propagated on the World Wide Web. When the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked yesterday and falsely reported two explosions that supposedly harmed President Barack Obama, it seemed like nobody from the White House got too bothered by it – the White House posted a photo on their official Twitter account taken during its science fair, while none of the other White Houselinked Twitter accounts were even updated on that day.

Soon after the fake tweet got posted and seen by over 1.9 million @AP Twitter followers, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a dive of over 150 points while the price of crude oil fell and came right back up. Members of the AP team soon warned the public not to trust content posted from all its official accounts. Some of them have been temporarily suspended.

The only White House-related response to this incident was made by Press Secretary Jay Carney during an afternoon briefing, assuring the public that the POTUS is unharmed. “I was just with him,” Carney confirmed.

The Homeland Security Department has acknowledged their own monitoring of Twitter and social media activity to thwart potential threats and risks, but have not officially released information on AP’s hacking, which was reportedly instigated by The Syrian Electronic Army, the same group who claimed responsibility for hacking Reuters, CBS, BBC, the Qatar Foundation, and FIFA. The @Official_SEA6 account reportedly posted, “Ops! @AP get owned by Syrian Electronic Army!” before being suspended.

The FBI is also known for watching the Internet for suspicious activity and “is investigating the matter with the AP and Twitter,” FBI spokeswomen Jenny Shearer vaguely told Business Week.

In today’s social media-driven world, federal agencies ought to be held accountable on their responsiveness (or lack thereof) – even The General Services Administration says so. We’ve reached out to the White House’s Office of Public Engagement to ask about their policy on responding to social media attacks but have not received a response yet.

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