Feeds

Google News farce triggers Wall Street sell-off

Six-year-old story pummels United Airlines

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Updated United Airlines' stock price plummeted more than 75 per cent yesterday, after a six-year-old bankruptcy story somehow surfaced on Google News.

As reported by The Washington Post, this labyrinthine tale began on Saturday, when Google News indexed a United bankruptcy piece published by the Chicago Tribune way back in 2002. United filed for chapter 11 that December, but emerged from bankruptcy four years later.

Google insists the South Florida Sun-Sentinel - a Trib sister paper - republished the story at about 10:30pm Pacific Saturday evening. But the papers' parent company says Google bots must have pulled the piece from the Sun-Sentinel's online archive.

In any event, the story lacked a date stamp. So Google stamped it with the current date: September 6, 2008.

Two days later, an unsuspecting reporter with a Florida investment research firm/news outfit typed "bankruptcy 2008" into Google News, and the six-year-old story appeared in the search results - looking brand new. The research firm, Income Securities Advisors, happens to be one of Bloomberg's so-called third-party content providers, and the story was soon spewed onto Wall Street monitors via a Bloomberg subscription news service - as nothing more than a headline.

The headline read "United Airlines files for Ch. 11 to cut costs."

When the Nasdaq Stock Market opened Monday morning, the stock price of United's parent company, UAL, sat at $12.30. But when the Bloomberg headline appeared at about 11am Eastern, the price dipped to $3 within the hour.

UAL trading was eventually halted, and after the headline was explained, the stock rebounded to $10.92 by closing time. But this tale paints a telling picture of Wall Street - and the news game. We can't decide which is more ridiculous. ®

Update

The Tribune Company has now said that traffic to the Sun-Sentinel's archive pushed the old bankruptcy article onto the "most viewed" section of the paper's web site.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.