Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

An AI-generated image of an explosion near the Pentagon appeared briefly on Twitter sending the world into a tizzy. The image not only gave fodder to the critics of artificial intelligence technology but also raised questions about the Twitter Blue verification model.
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the US Department of Defense and an image showing an explosion near the building will surely attract eyeballs, especially if it is tweeted by a ‘verified’ Twitter account. The company later suspended the account.
Pentagon ‘attack’
An AI-generated image appeared on Twitter and was reshared several times. The image depicted a large cloud of smoke next to a building with only a passing resemblance to the Pentagon. The image was shared by a verified Twitter account ‘Bloomberg Feed’, which people and several media outlets mistakenly took for a real Bloomberg-affiliated account, as it had a blue check.

It is to be noted that news organisations like Bloomberg, Times of India and Gadgets Now have gold ticks because they are “official organisations on Twitter”.
The tweet with a fake blast image spooked some investors. The S&P 500 dropped sharply in the minutes after the image was amplified by well-followed accounts. It later recovered those losses, a report by NBC News said.
The US Department of Defense later confirmed that the image was a fake, a report by The Guardian said. The Arlington, Virginia, fire department tweeted that “there is NO explosion or incident taking place at or near the Pentagon.” The Pentagon building is situated in Arlington, Virginia.
“@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,” the tweet said.

Twitter verification to blame?
The incident once again highlights the dangers of AI-generated content and may also put Twitter’s new verification system in a precarious position.
Reports suggest that the Russian state-controlled news network RT also shared the image. Several other Twitter accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers, like Deltaone, OSINTdefender and Whale Chart also shared the image, reports TechCrunch.
While a section blames Twitter’s paid verification for the whole episode, some Twitter users are of the view that people/organisations that reshared the images must have cross-checked the information from official sources.
After the AI-generated Pentagon blast image went viral, a copycat hoaxer shared an image of the White House on fire.

Twitter’s colour-coded verification ticks
Twitter has colour-coded verification that makes it easier for people to identify whom to rely on at such times.
Blue check mark is not a guarantee that the person is a renowned personality. It means that an account has an active subscription to Twitter Blue and meets the company’s eligibility requirements.
“Accounts that receive the blue checkmark as part of a Twitter Blue subscription will not undergo review to confirm that they meet the active, notable and authentic criteria that were used in the previous process,” the company says.
Gold checkmark and square profile picture: The gold check mark indicates that the account is an official business account through Twitter Verified Organizations.
Grey checkmark: The grey checkmark indicates that an account represents a government/multilateral organisation or a government/multilateral official.
Twitter also provides other indicators for authentic accounts. These include affiliation badges, automated account labels for transparency whether an account is a bot, and professional category labels.

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Tanushree K

By Tanushree


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