Social media has again proved its power, this time affecting fuel prices with a false tweet.
The Wall Street Journal announced that a Twitter account, presumably that of the Russian Interior Minister Vladamir Kolokoltsv, tweeted at 9:59 AM EST that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had been injured or killed. Other two tweets followed this one confirming al-Assad’s death.
What happened? No one bothered to check the information or even the Twitter accounts and instead, an hour later, between 10:15 and 10:45, sweet crude prices increased from $90.82 to $91.99. It was only later officials found out that Bashar al-Assad was alive and kicking and the Russian ministry denied any connection with the account or the twister tweets.
According to Price Futures Group analyst Phil Flynn “a well-placed story can move the market, and that looks like what happened.”
Syria is not a major oil producer, but everybody feared that this news would get to Iran, who is a great supporter of Assad. As you remember Iran was the one who threatened to close Straight of Hormuz, the major throughway used by ships to supply the entire world with crude oil, after the country was sanctioned for its participation in a nuclear weapons program.
If such events followed a simple tweet and in such a short time, what’s next? The World War III over an SMS?