On Monday morning around 9:59 am ET, a Twitter account claiming to represent Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev tweeted that eventually sparked a $1 price hike for crude-oil futures got the world at shock.
The first tweet from @MiniInterRussia, which has since been deleted, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been killed or injured. This tweet was followed with two tweets claiming that his death had been confirmed.
It was extremely surprising to the see the way market reacted, in just 16 minutes after the first tweet, futures for light, sweet crude started to increase, topping out at $91.99 a barrel by 10:45 a.m.
“A well-placed story can move the market, and that looks like what happened,” Price Futures Group Analyst Phil Flynn told The Wall Street Journal.
Oil prices closed at $92.20 on the New York Merchantile Exchange. According to WSJ, it’s the highest settlement price since July 19.
The @MiniInterRussia account was never an official representation of Kolokoltsev. Archived tweets show that it regularly attempted to spread death rumors of famous celebrities. Notable people the account claimed had died include Nelson Mandela, Francis Ford Coppola and novelist Gabriel Garcia Márquez.
While it’s not yet confirmed who’s actually behind @MiniInterRussia, the account sent out this tweet yesterday before Twitter shut it down:
But just like the account itself, this attribution could just be another scam.
“This isn’t the first time Twitter has served as a hub for major death rumors of international leaders. In February, Twitter picked up news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s death after it was initially posted to Chinese microblogging service Weibo. And just one month earlier, Cuba slammed Twitter for spreading rumors that Fidel Castro has passed away” pointed out Mashable