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Fake AP tweet on White House blasts rattles market

WASHINGTON — The Twitter account for the Associated Press was hacked Tuesday and falsely sent out a tweet saying there had been explosions at the White House, injuring President Obama.

Within minutes, Twitter suspended the account, and Julie Pace, the AP’s chief White House correspondent, announced the account had been hacked. Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, confirmed the president was unharmed.

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Editors at the AP followed with a statement saying that ‘‘The @AP twitter account has been hacked. The tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise more as soon as possible.’’

The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 130 points when the report broke on Twitter but quickly recoupled the losses.

The AP typically uses Social Flow, a social media tool, to distribute tweets. In this case, the attackers posted directly from the Web, according to metadata associated with the tweet.

In the past few days, the AP discovered that malware had infected some of its computers. Hackers can use malware to gain a foothold in a network and gain access to usernames and passwords.

Paul Colford, a spokesman for the AP, said the Twitter hacking was preceded by a phishing attempt on the AP’s corporate e-mail network, probably in an effort to get user credentials. ‘‘The attack was blocked, and there is no evidence any AP systems beyond e-mail were compromised.’’

Through a Twitter account, a group called the Syrian Electronic Army took credit for the attack.

This is the third high-profile corporate account to be hacked in recent months. In February, Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked, the company’s logo was replaced by a McDonald’s logo, and rogue announcements appeared. A day later Jeep’s account was attacked.

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