Twitter hoax causes a new Wall Street ‘Flash Crash’
A shady group that claims to represent the interests of Syrian al-Assad supporters is raising havoc on the Internet, going so far as to (momentarily) crash the stock market. So who is this Syrian Electronic Army, and what do they want?
On Tuesday, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for hacking the Associated Press’ verified Twitter account, which it used to issue a short-lived but potentially disastrous tweet, falsely reporting two explosions at the White House and injury to the president. Though the fraud quickly exposed, the tweet caused a sudden 140-point dip in the Dow Industrial Average.
The financial losses were immediately recovered, but the impact showed the power of a group that has, up until now, operated on the fringe. The Syrian Electronic Army’s stated mission is to attack and deface websites in a fight against anti-Syria media coverage. But its actions cause observers to wonder increasingly aloud whether this is a gang of activists, pranksters or operatives from Syria’s al-Assad government itself.RELATEDFake AP tweet reveals nation on edge over terror
The Syrian Electronic Army describes itself on its website — launched in May 2011, as the Syrian civil war escalated — as “a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria.” Its targets are not only the websites of media, but social network accounts as well, which it says “deliberately work to spread hatred and sectarian intolerance between the peoples of Syria to fuel the uprising.”