TODAY   |  April 24, 2013

Secret Service monitoring AP Twitter hoax

After a tweet was posted by the Associated Press Tuesday afternoon reporting explosions at the White House, the AP quickly announced its account had been compromised, but the tweet caused the  Dow to plunge 140 points. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>>> the high-profile hacking of the associated press's twitter account. a fake message was posted, claiming there was an attack on the white house and it caused a brief and costly panic on wall street . nbc's white house correspondent, peter alexander , has details on this. peter, good morning.

>> savannah, good morning to you. the ap 's twitter account is still suspended this morning. and because this bogus tweet actually dealt with the president, the secret service tells us that it is monitoring the situation as well. you know, there are more than 140 million accounts in the u.s. alone and twitter has proven to be both an incredible tool for information, but as we learned once again, it's also a venue vulnerable to cyberattacks. what a difference 140 characters makes. or in this case, just 71. the tweet from the associated press tuesday afternoon read, "breaking -- two explosions in the white house and barack obama is injured." of course, it wasn't true. the ap quickly announced that it had been hacked.

>> hello, everybody. please have a seat.

>> reporter: and there was the president in the rose garden an hour later. but by then, the message had already ricocheted through the twitterverse. even taking an immediate toll on wall street .

>> the markets kind of fallen apart.

>> reporter: within three minutes, the dow plunged more than 130 points, dropping more than $137 billion before gaining it all back. the ap is in good company. cbs' " 60 minutes " account is still suspended after it was hacked last weekend and npr's just days earlier. twitter is celebrated for its speed and accessibility, even credited for fueling revolutions in the middle east . but in seven years, it's also become what some say the world's most powerful rumor mill. thousands on twitter had already blamed two innocent men, their names trending worldwide.

>> people are believing what they and see passing it along without even thinking, and things that they would never do in real life . on twitter, it's one click away, and that's how rumors become viral, just like computer viruses do.

>> reporter: an era of instant misinformation with potentially serious consequences. so who's behind these latest hackings? the so-called syrian electronic army. they're supports of president bashar al assad , they've claimed responsibility for the ap , cbs, and the npr hackings. this morning, you can imagine a lot of newsrooms across this country are revisiting their own social media security policies to make sure, savannah, that they're not the next.

>> we hope so. peter alexander