Twitter hoax fuels calls for market prudence



RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | Arab News Staff

Published — Thursday 25 April 2013

Last update 8 May 2013 8:17 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

The Kingdom must take precautions to ensure more online protection to its financial institutions, key industry executives and investment experts said yesterday. 
A false report of explosions at the US White House that wiped out around $ 136 billion from the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in about two minutes highlighted the risks of the computerized trading that dominates the $ 18 trillion market.
The index recovered from the plunge within three minutes as the news service said its Twitter account had been hacked and there were no explosions. The S&P 500 ended the session up 1 percent at 1,578.78.
Industry watchers said the fake tweet was retweeted nearly 2,000 times before it was taken down. 
“We all need to be more careful on Twitter in regard to what is true and what is not. We all should be more skeptical,” said a Riyadh-based social media activist.
“Thanks that the local Saudi market was not affected, which is evident from the Tadawul index,” said S. M. I. Hassan, chief of the market management at Allianz Saudi Fransi.  “The Saudi and Gulf stocks were not affected,” said Hassan. 
According to recent statistics, Saudi nationals form the fastest growing group on Twitter.
There has been an unprecedented rise in Twitter users across the Middle East in general, but Saudi Arabia ranks first, said Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, in a report recently. “Twitter is seeing some of its most torrid growth in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia," said Costolo. 
“In view of such a massive growth, the Kingdom must take precautions to ensure more online protection to its financial institutions and to its social life,” said Priyan Attygalle, CEO of the American Express Saudi Arabia.
He, however, said investors and Twitter account holders received a prime lesson yesterday: What happens when two powerful forces smash together — social media and algorithmic trading. 
The false AP tweet about two explosions at the White House saw the Dow Jones briefly plunge 143 points.
Following the fake tweet, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters "the president is fine." An outfit calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for hacking AP's main feed and putting out the bogus story. The incident illustrates the inherent and perhaps poorly understood risks represented by the combination of electronic trading and social media.
The fake tweet was re-tweeted nearly 2,000 times before it was taken down. Coming from a trusted source like AP, the news slammed the stock market instantly. Muallim A. Otaibi, an IT expert, called on companies and individuals to take all precautions to prevent hacking. "The steps taken to protect your Twitter account are much the same steps you should take to protect your other online accounts," he said.
He advised account holders to create strong passwords and keep a watch on odd e-mails. According to a report from AP itself, attacks on two of its Twitter accounts came after suspicious “phishing” e-mails were sent to its employees. Twitter, unlike its social network peers at Facebook and Google, does not currently offer users the option to turn on two-factor authentication — an extra layer of protection for their accounts. 
The misuse of Twitter as a networking service was also recently criticized by Saudi government agencies. Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, told a news conference on March 8: "There are people who misuse the social networking sites and try to send false information and false evaluation of the situation in the Kingdom and the way policemen in the country are dealing with situations."

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

MADINAH/JEDDAH: Pilgrims and visitors performing tawaf (circumambulation) of the Holy Kaaba or praying around it may look forward to relief from the blazing sun, as a proposal to shade the Mataf area is being studied.According to local media, the mat...
JEDDAH: Users of WhatsApp were a joyous lot on Saturday as the call facility finally became available on the popular messaging service in the Kingdom.The facility, which is for free now, through WhatsApp was earlier banned in Saudi Arabia and only me...
RIYADH: A Border Guard soldier died on Saturday in a missile attack from across the Yemeni border in Dhahran Al-Jonoub in Asir.The man, identified as Pvt. Abdulilah Abdullah Hamoud Al-Shahrani, was patrolling the border in the area when the attack to...
RIYADH: Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman takes pride in his religion and his country, according to Prince Sultan bin Salman, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) chairman.“King Salman lives his life in a confident and re...
RIYADH: Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani and Khaled Al-Muhaisin, the president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), are scheduled to meet soon to clear resolve differences between Nazaha and Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). According...
JEDDAH: Starbucks has clarified that the ban on women’s entry at one of its Riyadh stores is only temporary and that the coffee shop will be opened to them soon after a separation wall is erected.Starbucks reportedly said that members of the Committe...
RIYADH: The Saudi government is strongly supporting the development of organic farming and institutional capacity building as part of an ambitious plan to expand the Kingdom’s shift toward organic agriculture, which will be good for the country’s nut...
RIYADH: An attempt to smuggle in 2.4 million amphetamine pills was foiled along the coast of Tabuk.An Interior Ministry spokesman said the traffickers fled from the coast after they were chased by Border Guard patrols.The spokesman said a suspect boa...
RIYADH: King Saud University (KSU) closed the booths of five companies which participated in the recently concluded five-day Career Week because of lack of interest in employing applicants.Career Week, held under the auspices of Custodian of Two Holy...
RIYADH: The Kingdom has been developing Oroug Bani Maradh as a protected area for eco-tourism in the heart of the Empty Quarter.Aside from a number of live flora and fauna, there’s are non-domesticated animal species in the wildlife sanctuary located...
JEDDAH: Two women and three children, including an infant, lost their lives in separate fire incidents on Friday.A woman and two children died when their tent caught fire at Al-Issawi, 35 km into the desert, on Friday. The operations room of Civil De...
RIYADH: Arrangements are being made at the Ministry of Health to open a new portal for the Zika virus on its website.Faisal Al-Zahrani, the ministry spokesman, said that the new portal will give adequate details and updates about the virus which has...
ARAR: A Saudi father has urged his two sons to immediately surrender, after their names recently appeared on the list of suspects who participated in the terror attack on the Special Emergency Forces Mosque in Asir in August last year.Salem Yaslam Al...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Education has called on schools to implement a national anti-drug plan and given a four-month period to implement the plan and report the results.Educational directorates, according to a recent circular, have issued a directiv...
NAJRAN: School of Dentistry students at Najran University expressed disappointment with group failure of 13 students, accusing the faculty members of being unfair with their examinations.The university spokesman, Dr. Zuhair Al-Omari, said the eighth...

Stay Connected

Facebook