An artificial intelligence (AI) generated photo which showed a fake explosion outside the Pentagon went viral and caused the markets to briefly dip today.
On Monday morning, an image showing a huge cloud of black smoke on a grass lawn outside a building was widely shared across Twitter with reports that there had been an explosion near the Pentagon building in Washington D.C.
But the photograph of the explosion was a hoax, purportedly generated with AI technology.
However, according to Insider, that did not stop the AI-generated photo from circulating across social media and U.S. stocks were briefly spooked by the fake claims of an explosion near the Pentagon.
This morning, an AI generated image of an explosion at the US Pentagon surfaced.
With multiple news sources reporting it as real, the S&P 500 fell 30 points in minutes.
This resulted in a $500 billion market cap swing on a fake image.
It then rebounded once the image was… pic.twitter.com/DpHgflkMXP
— The Kobeissi Letter (@KobeissiLetter) May 22, 2023
The U.S. stock market briefly dipped as news of the purported explosion spread. The fake image was reportedly first shared on Twitter at 10:06 local time — although the original post has since been removed from the platform.
And by 10:10, the U.S. stock market had turned sharply lower shortly after reports of the explosion had circulated. However, the market bounced back and stabilized after the photo was revealed as an AI-generated hoax.
@PFPAOfficial and the ACFD are aware of a social media report circulating online about an explosion near the Pentagon. There is NO explosion or incident taking place at or near the Pentagon reservation, and there is no immediate danger or hazards to the public. pic.twitter.com/uznY0s7deL
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) May 22, 2023
Arlington Fire and EMS Department tweeted that it was “aware of a social media report circulating online about an explosion near the Pentagon.
“There is NO explosion or incident taking place at or near the Pentagon reservation, and there is no immediate danger or hazards to the public.”
A Department of Defense spokesperson later confirmed to Forbes that the photo, which briefly dominated Google searches and Twitter, is a piece of “misinformation.”
The source of the image has not yet been determined and it is not definitively confirmed whether the photo was AI-generated.
However, the photo has some attributes of imagery created with the technology. The columns in the building in the hoax photo are different sizes and the fence appears to blend into the sidewalk in some places.
The image of the Pentagon explosion underlines the dangers of AI-generated misinformation and the prowess of the technology. Earlier this year, a series of photorealistic AI images that show Donald Trump being arrested went viral online — with many social media users believing the photos were real.