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An AI Image of a Pentagon Explosion Temporarily Wiped Billions Off The US Stock Market

3 min read

This article is for general information purposes only and isn’t intended to be financial product advice. You should always obtain your own independent advice before making any financial decisions. The Chainsaw and its contributors aren’t liable for any decisions based on this content.



This week, an AI generated image spooked the stock market in a perfect storm of fake news, AI fückery and jittery market traders.

Earlier this week, a Twitter account called Bloomberg Feed (@bloombergfeed) shared a fake image depicting an explosion at the Pentagon. Bloomberg Feed is not, it should be said, associated with Bloomberg. However, the account had a paid for Twitter Blue-verified checkmark. While, in the current context of Twitter, that doesn’t mean a whole lot, it does have the effect of boosting the post’s visibility.

As the image went viral, it caused panic and literally moved the markets. This resulted in the stock market temporarily losing billions before correcting itself once the image was established as a fake. Jittery traders and investors were quick to act against a background of nervousness around the US Debt ceiling, which is the current subject of great political turmoil for America.

The Bloomberg Feed account has since been suspended by Twitter.


AI image generators: Are they to blame?

Many pundits were quick to blame new AI software, which can casually generate this kind of image in minutes. However it’s worth noting that Photoshop has been around for decades and can produce the same kind of effect in a short amount of time as well.

The issue seems to lie with Twitter’s verification system, added to a stew of poor journalism. Multiple outlets happily spread the image and pushed out a story without doing due diligence. The image was spread by outlets such as RT, a Russian government-backed media company, which used to be called Russia Today.

RT has since deleted the Tweet, and published a new one, acting like nothing happened.

But the internet remembers, because we are petty like that.


A quick call to the police and fire officials in the area would have shown that there was no drama, and in fact, they did make a statement that the image isn’t real and there was no incident at the Pentagon.

Stock market and crypto market

The timing of the fake imagery was seamless; the image caught fire just after the U.S. stock market opened at 9:30 a.m.

While the The S&P 500 dropped 0.3%, the crypto markets held steady, with Bitcoin looking like the place to go during crisis, as investors searched for places to park their bucks during the crisis.

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Internet sleuths weighed in saying that the AI-generated image had obvious signs that it was not real. These included snafus such as a total lack of people, the concrete and grass fading into one another, the fence being inconsistent, and the windows in the picture not matching real pictures of the pentagon.

Detection tools will be needed, and fast. AI developers, we ride at dawn.