If you haven't seen my coverage of the Google News Error Aids In United Airlines Stock Drop at Search Engine Land, let me bring you up to speed in a couple lines. Earlier this week, Google's news crawler crawled Florida Sun-Sentinel website to find a link to an article that discussed United Airlines filing for bankruptcy. The article was actually an old story, but had no date, so Google picked it up as a new story. Then others saw the story on Google News (not on their home page), assumed it was new, and wrote about it. United Airlines stock price feel about 12% on that old news.
A day later, Google blamed the Tribune (the owner of the web site) for not dating their article. Google explained the link was found on the home page, Googlebot crawled the link, indexed the article, and found September 7, 2008 as a date listed on the page. Tribune then came back blaming Google for the mistake, saying that the URL is old, never changed, the content is the same, and it is all the same from 2002. The only thing that happened was that the article became a "most popular" link on the Florida Sun-Sentinel website, but the link and URL was old.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the "Securities and Exchange Commission opened a preliminary inquiry into the circumstances around UAL Corp.'s stock drop, according to people familiar with the matter." John Reed Stark, head of the SEC's office of Internet enforcement said, "Anytime anyone spreads false information over radio, TV, Internet message boards or chat rooms, about a public company that will raise questions as to whether someone is committing securities fraud."
So who is to blame? That is the discussion at a WebmasterWorld. Should legal or financial action be taken against either company? Should we learn from this and improve the process and algorithm to make sure it doesn't happen, but not take any action? This is a tough call, very tough call.
Here is a poll, who do you think is to blame?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.
Poll results now live at Survey Says: United Airlines (UAL) Stock Price Drop Blamed On.