Many of us rely on social media sites to get up to date information about what’s going on in the news, rather than watching a news broadcast or reading a newspaper, however this can be problematic if that particular social media site has been hacked and is posting false information. This past Tuesday, hackers took over the Associated Press Twitter account and claimed that there had been explosions at the White House and that President Obama was hurt. This tweet was only up for a brief period of time and had been retweeted thousands of times before Twitter took the account offline. This news was immediately confirmed as untrue, but not before it caused the stock market to plunge 143 points. Even by deleting the tweet and following up with the correct information will not help too much because not everyone who saw the initial post may have seen the correction. There is also no way to stop the initial tweet once it has already been retweeted by thousands of people. Situations like these show us that we should always double check any information we find out on social media, because there is always a chance it is not true.
It is amazing how powerful social media has become when one incorrect tweet has the power to cause financial panic, and diplomatic strains. One example of this is when the U.S. Embassy in Cairo posted a link to a Daily Show segment that was critical of the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, this caused some tensions between the U.S. and Egypt. It is also difficult to tell someone’s tone in something that is written on a computer or mobile device in 140 characters or less, so they could be joking or being completely serious, and that is why it’s always important to take everything we read on social media with a grain of salt.