The AI-generated image spread quickly after appearing on a verified Twitter account that traffics in conspiracy theories and praises Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

Washington Post: Joseph Menn

A viral hoax that briefly sent the stock market down last month apparently first gained traction on Twitter through a conspiracy-mongering, pro-Russian account.

The picture that grabbed attention on the morning of May 22, captioned “Large Explosion Near the Pentagon,” was generated by artificial intelligence without much sophistication, experts said. But it is probably a harbinger of things to come, especially as generative AI gets better at producing images to meet the demands of anyone’s imagination.

Research by The Washington Post, misinformation tracking firm Alethea and others found that the earliest confirmed Twitter posting of the image came from an account called @CBKNEWS121. In its less than two years on Twitter, CBK has posted a grab-bag of references to QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories, current events, and memes and statements praising former president Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. On May 3, it tweeted “I stand with Putin,” followed by a heart emoji.

Read the full story here to learn more about the disinformation hoax.