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Fake AI image of Pentagon exploding goes viral on Twitter and causes US markets to plummet

A fake image of an explosion near the Pentagon in Washington DC, which may have been created using AI technology, caused a brief market selloff.

The image purported to show a large cloud of smoke near the headquarters of the Department of Defense on Monday, and was shared by a string of online accounts on Twitter.

But the image and claims of an explosion were quickly branded fake by the Arlington Fire Department.

“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 department said on Twitter.

The image, which Insider says has some characteristics of AI-generated images, was shared by the Twitter account of Russian-state media RT, among others.

The fake explosion was shared by the @Deltaone Twitter account at 10.06am ET, and by 10.10am ET the US stock market had fallen by 0/26 per cent before bouncing back, Insider reported. The account later posted that the explosion picture was fake.

It was also shared by a fake but verified Twitter account claiming to represent a major news organisation.

Some Twitter users pointed out that warped sections of the fence showed that it had been manipulated by AI.

Who created the fake is not immediately clear, but convincing “deep fakes” such as the Pope wearing a Balenciaga coat have gone viral recently.