Timeline: AP Twitter account hacked

A look at what happened when a tweet about a White House attack was sent from the Associated Press' Twitter account.


  1. A little after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, a tweet is sent out from the Associated Press' Twitter account about President Obama being injured in a White House attack. Notice that it doesn't follow the usual AP style, which calls for "Breaking" to be capitalized.
  2. Many retweet the tweet and the cycle continues. This tweet from Anonymous received more than 500 retweets, for example.
  3. The Associated Press' Mobile account is also affected. And the Syrian Electronic Army takes responsibility.
  4. The SEA also took responsibility for hacking other news organizations earlier in the week.
  5. Meanwhile, Anonymous denies having anything to do with hacking the account.
  6. Reporter Sam Hananel, who writes about labor and employment issues for the Associated Press in Washington, confirms that the main account has been hacked.
  7. Other Associated Press accounts follow suit.
  8. Both the @AP and @AP_Mobile accounts are suspended.
  9. At the time, White House Spokesman Jay Carney is holding a press briefing. When he gets wind of what happened, he debunks the tweet, saying "The president is fine ... I was just with him."
  10. As a direct result of the fake tweet, stocks plunge briefly. The Dow Jones industrial average plunges more than 128 points in seconds, but quickly recovers when the tweet is found to be a hoax.

  11. Minutes later, Associated Press reporter Mike Baker explains that a phishing e-mail started it all.
  12. #APpasswords on Twitter becomes comedy gold.