The question of reliable disclosure in the changing media landscape, as well as that of journalistic standards in the blogsphere, was underscored this week when technology blog/magazine Engadget sent Apple stocks tumbling as a result of an email hoax.
On May 16 Engadget published on its site that they “have it on authority” that Apple pushed back the release date of its iPhone from June to October, and its new Leopard operating system from October to January 2008.
This news was enough to send Apple stocks sliding 4.3% in under six minutes, from $107.89 to $103.42, wiping out nearly $4 Billion of Apple’s market cap.
Later that day Apple clarified that both the iPhone and Leopard were on track. Engadget then told its readers the source it acted upon was an internal Apple email that turned out to be a hoax. Apple stocks recovered mostly later in the day.
It is unclear yet where the bogus email originated from, and whether Engadget tried at all to verify or cross-check the information prior to posting. What is clear however, is that the dissemination and publication of potentially market moving information is just as sensitive an issue as it has always been, and in fact even more so given the variety of new and immediate media available to both users and publishers. The iPhone hoax underscores how corporations bear the responsibility to disseminate their news in a consistent and trustworthy fashion that cannot easily be exploited by stock manipulators and pranksters. It also highlights the fact that new media outlets and bloggers bear the same responsibility as traditional journalists to verify the facts behind their statements.