If you're a daily Twitter user like me – and I suspect many of you are – then you probably heard about the explosions at the White House that injured President Obama around noon Milwaukee time yesterday.
If you follow enough folks on Twitter to keep up with a running timeline of daily events as part of your social media responsibilities, you soon learned that the tweet that was allegedly sent by the respected news organization The Associated Press was false. The news service quickly announced its Twitter account had been the victim of hacking by unknown perpetrators.
The AP soon confirmed that the White House was still standing and the President of the U.S. was unharmed. The problem, of course, was that other news sources immediately reported the news about AP on Twitter, which meant the credibility problem was still looming.
As it turned out, a group calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army ended up taking credit for sending the fake tweet under the AP account but that wasn't corroborated by intelligence officials. But the impact the hoax had on the U.S. stock market was real and immediate.
According to Retuers – which hopefully wasn't hacked – the Dow Jones Industrial average fell 143 points after the fake tweet was posted, briefly wiping out a reported $136.5 billion of value before markets recovered later in the day.
That's just another indication how serious things can get with any hint of more terrorism just weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings that reminded most Americans that our enemies are still plotting ways to hurt us. The only good thing to come out of the false White House bombing tweet yesterday was the fact it wasn't true.
This soon after Boston, I'm not sure we could have taken it.
Until the fake tweet, the most intriguing terrorism story I had been following recently was the Elvis Presley impersonator arrested for sending ricin laced letters to Obama and other officials in Washington D.C.
Paul Kevin Curtis was released this week after authorities suddenly dropped charges. The Tupelo native – that's Elvis' hometown, by the way – was quoted denying any involvement in the poison letter conspiracy, telling reporters "I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official."
According to news photos, Curtis was wearing trademark "Elvis" sideburns at the news conference.
The New York Post probably had the most amusing cutline of the week under a photo of Curtis in his Elvis gear:
"Jailhouse Crock: The feds had suspicious minds. Paul Curtis was caught in a trap, couldn't walk out, but he loves the USA too much, baby. Now he is free."
A new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and Press reported that three-fourths of Americans agree with the statement that "occasional acts of terrorism will be part of life in the future," a sign that most Americans have come to grips with a new reality that is scary but also inevitable.
One day after a major U.S. news organization was the victim of a hoax that set off financial aftershocks but created no widespread public panic, it's seems that we are prepared to deal with this stuff as it comes.
Even with a sense of humor, sometimes.
Eugene Kane is veteran Milwaukee journalist and nationally award winning columnist.
Kane writes about a variety of important issues in Milwaukee and society that impact residents of all backgrounds.