Six-year-old story pops up on Google News, triggering United Airlines share price collapse

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united-airlines-googlebot-share-collapse.jpgThree cheers for automated technology! The Google News “Googlebot” search routine decided last weekend that a six-year-old story regarding United Airlines filing for bankruptcy was new and exciting.

The automated news site posted the Chicago Tribune report – originally written on December 10 of 2002 – as new news at the top of its business section, dated it with the day’s date and sent UA shareholders into a CRAZED SELLING PANIC, bringing down the share price by a staggering 76% until trading was halted.

The Tribune has detailed the event timeline here, pointing out that the story was not updated and the URL remained the same – the only trigger was a link to the piece appearing under an automatically-generated “Popular Stories Business” section of the site. UA is not very happy with Google, either.

Honestly, we’ve seen it all before. Skynet. One simple computer error triggering apocalypse. When will people learn? We need to go back to alcoholic men writing news on typewriters at 2.45am. It’s the only safe way. What would happen if George Bush saw a headline about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbour pop up in his RSS feed?

(Via IW)

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Gary Cutlack