‘Conspiratorial narratives' are inflaming social media panic over bank collapse, according to researchers.

Bloomberg's Cyber Bulletin

Russian media outlets, far-right websites, short sellers and doomsday preppers were among those who pushed and amplified conspiracy theories online focused on the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, according to disinformation specialists.

Researchers are just starting to explore how powerful of a role social media played in spreading hysteria around the second-largest bank failure in US history. The anti-disinformation firm Alethea, which has uncovered apparent stock market gaming online as well as other social media manipulation, indicated that a range of accounts seized on uncertainty to promote their own agendas after word of the bank’s demise started to spread.

Lisa Kaplan, Alethea’s founder, told me that she believes the convergence of stories shared by venture capitalists and amplified by “propagandists and foreign influencers” contributed to SVB’s closing.

"We assess that these outlets may have increased online panic and contributed to the broader cross-platform spread of false or misleading content about SVB,” Kaplan said.

"We also assess that conspiratorial narratives may have accelerated panic, which then posed a risk to the broader financial system," she said.

"This shut down a bank, and I’m concerned about it happening again," Kaplan added.

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