When the New York Stock Exchange inexplicably halted trades at about 11:30 Wednesday morning, people around the Twittersphere reacted with their typical restraint, reasoned analysis, and careful double-checking of the facts.
After all, there were an unusual number of suspicious events today, and Twitter was swirling with paranoid conspiracy theories linking Wall Street, the grounding of United Airlines flights, ISIS, and the Chinese financial meltdown.
Initial reactions were largely variants of this one:
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. https://t.co/tj24cmsRnL
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) July 8, 2015
But the conspiracy theories—involving the Chinese, the CIA, and even ISIS—were not far behind. Some came from on high. Here’s one from US Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.):
Three major computer malfunctions on same day give appearance of an attack, serve as reminder Congress must pass a cybersecurity bill
— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) July 8, 2015
He wasn’t the only one taking things in that direction:
Don’t know anything yet. This is probably hacking. Look at united today. Is this a coincidence. #NYSE
— Ross Gerber (@GerberKawasaki) July 8, 2015
For the conspiracy theorists out there, an account claiming to be the hacking group Anonymous tweeted this yesterday. pic.twitter.com/ODicSlPMYk
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) July 8, 2015
Conspiracy theory: What if the Sony hack was a test for actual attacks to come? WSJ, NYSE, UA part of a larger cyber attack spectrum?
— PsyBaba (@hackatac) July 8, 2015
@zerohedge Chinese retaliation for CIA tanking their stk mkt; which was retaliation for China US govt hack.
— Bluetoon (@GMBluetoon) July 8, 2015
The NYSE closes and United grounds all flights on the same day right after Hillary said China was hacking us. So that’s fun.
— Vino Tinto (@VinoTheWise) July 8, 2015
— WebsterGTarpley (@WebsterGTarpley) July 8, 2015
As China stock exchange takes a tumble & now NYSE has “glitch” conspiracy theorist in me thinks possible cyber attack from China?
— Martyn Wallace (@Digital_MW) July 8, 2015
So I have a conspiracy theory that the ISIS terrorist threat was actually a distraction so China could hack our stock market w/o resistance
— Natalia Cook (@gabrialias) July 8, 2015
And even after the US Department of Homeland Security said there was no indication that the NYSE situation was due to a malicious act, some people weren’t buying it:
— annum ordinaria (@im_marcie) July 8, 2015
— ed714 (@ed714) July 8, 2015
The theory that China might be behind this series of events could be supported by data from the Norse Intelligence Network, a California-based online security company. The company offers up a real-time cyber attack map, which seemed to show at midday on Wednesday that China was the number-one attacker and the US was the number-one target: