(CNN) A fake photo purporting to show an explosion near the Pentagon was shared by multiple verified Twitter accounts on Monday, causing confusion and leading to a brief plunge in the stock market. Local officials later confirmed that no such incident had occurred.
The image, which bears all the hallmarks of being generated by artificial intelligence, was shared by several verified blue-tick accounts, including one that falsely claimed to be linked to Bloomberg News.
“Large explosion near the Pentagon complex in Washington DC. – initial report,” the account wrote, along with a photo purporting to show black smoke rising near a large building.
The account has since been suspended by Twitter. It was unclear who was behind the account or where the image originated.
Under owner Elon Musk, Twitter has allowed anyone to get a verified account in exchange for a monthly payment. As a result, Twitter verification is no longer an indicator that an account represents who it claims to represent.
The false reports of the blast also aired on a major Indian television network. Republic TV reported that an explosion had taken place, showing the fake image in the air, citing reports from Russian news outlet RT. It later retracted the report when it became clear that the incident had not taken place.
“Republic had broadcast news of a possible explosion near the Pentagon, referring to a post and a photo tweeted by RT,” the broadcaster later wrote on its Twitter account. “RT has deleted the post and Republic has retracted the newsletter.”
CNN has reached out to RT, Bloomberg and Twitter for comment.
Moments after the photo began circulating on Twitter, the US stock market took a noticeable dive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 80 points between 10.06 and at 10.10 and fully recovered at 10.13. Similarly, the broader S&P 500 was up 0.02% at 10:06 to a decrease of 0.15% at 10:09 in the morning. At 10:11 the index was positive again.
The building in the picture bears little resemblance to the Pentagon and, according to experts, shows signs that it may have been created with the help of artificial intelligence.
“This image shows typical signs of being AI-synthesized: There are structural flaws on the building and the fence that you wouldn’t see if, for example, someone added smoke to an existing image,” Hany Farid, professor at the University of California, Berkeley , and digital forensics expert told CNN.
The Arlington, Virginia, Fire Department later responded in a tweet, saying it and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency were “aware of a social media report circulating online of an explosion near the Pentagon. There is NO explosion or incident finding place at or near the Pentagon reservation and there is no immediate danger or dangers to the public.”
— CNN’s David Goldman contributed reporting.