A fake image briefly evaporated $500 billion on the US stock exchange this afternoon. The image may have been taken by artificial intelligence. An image of dark plumes of smoke was shared on Twitter shortly after 4pm, with text saying it was an explosion at the Pentagon, the building of the US Department of Defense.
The local fire service quickly revealed this message with their own message on Twitter. But meanwhile, the US S&P 500 has already fallen.
“I’ve seen it happen,” says stock market analyst Nico Enberg of De Aandeelhouder. “I said to a colleague: How strange it is that the stock market has suddenly gone down.” As a stock trader, Inberg has previously experienced stock market shocks due to major news rumors, such as the September 11 attacks. Even then, the reaction to the first photos was swift: selling.
But Inberg had never experienced a stock market loss due to fake news before. “This kind of abuse is really something that society has to take into consideration.” Cornet van Zijl, an analyst at Actium, sees it that way, too. “The use of artificial intelligence manipulation is definitely an element to pay more attention to.”
Get back up quickly
The price of the S&P 500 dropped about 30 points in a few minutes. “This means a loss of $500 billion in market value,” Enberg says. But he also returned very quickly. Within minutes, it was clear that it was fake news.
“Retail investors will not be affected by this,” Enberg says. “But there are undoubtedly traders who lost or won on this matter.”
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