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The Associated Press tweet about a White House attack was obviously fake
President Obama is fine
 
Fear not, guys, the White House is still standing.
Fear not, guys, the White House is still standing. Thinkstock

No, the White House is not under attack, and President Obama is doing just fine. A little after 1 p.m. EST, a rather surprising tweet was posted by The Associated Press' usually reliable Twitter account. A screengrab:

The AP's account was immediately suspended, and it quickly became apparent that the esteemed news organization was the latest victim of a hack. CBS News, for example, has been wrestling the pro-regime Syrian Electronic Army for control of two of its Twitter feeds over the last few days. In the AP's case, we don't know who was behind the hack, at least not yet.

As BuzzFeed's Samir Mezrahi points out, the way the tweet was sent was inconsistent with the way the AP usually does things, namely because the tweet was sent using "the web," not Social Flow, a popular tool for managing social media accounts:

Others journalism nerds proudly noted that the tweet itself deviated from the AP Stylebook

And lastly, if you were worried momentarily that the new thriller movie Olympus Has Fallen had become a grim reality, you could've turned to the White House itself. (A livefeed being spread around turned out to be a parody website.)

As Slate's Matthew Yglesias points out, even Wall Street took a quick nosedive after the apparent "news," before picking itself back up:

 

The lesson, as always, is that it's best to approach anything you see on social media with a healthy dose of skepticism. That's partly what's so great about it: Twitter can spread bad information, sure. But it also self-polices, eventually bringing out the truth.

 
Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Sometimes he writes about other stuff. His work has also appeared in TIME, Men's JournalEsquire, and The Atlantic.

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