The Dow Jones newswire carried a headline on Tuesday which could have rocked the world.
“Google to buy Apple for $9bn.” What a story.
It had all the hallmarks of an April fool’s joke. Or a fake news clickbait piece.
And it was fake news. Though it was completely unintentional.
What was it all about?
The story was quite involved.
Steve Jobs had suggested the buyout in his will. And, after the multi-billion dollar deal, Google staff would move into Apple’s ‘fancy headquarters.’
Sadly it was all false. A completely made up story.
A statement from Dow Jones Senior Director, Communications Steve Severinghaus said: “Please disregard the headlines that ran on Dow Jones Newswires between 9:34 a.m. ET and 9:36 a.m. ET.
“Due to a technical error, the headlines were published. All of those headlines are being removed from the wires.
“We apologize for the error.”
So how did the story appear?
It was quite a mundane explanation. Engineers were testing the wires and inadvertently put out a dummy story.
They quickly withdrew the story. But the value of Apple’s shares did briefly rise on the back of the ‘news’.
Dummy stories appearing online or in print is nothing new.
During the editing process sub-editors will often insert dummy stories or jokey captions as placeholders.
But sometimes the editor can overlook them. And the dummy story makes it out into the public domain.
Every newspaper, magazine, and news service will have cringeworthy examples of putting out embarrassing or false stories. More than one sub-editor has had to eat humble pie.
But Google buying Apple? Maybe one day?????