Saturday, October 04, 2008

SEC Investigating Fake "Steve Jobs Heart Attack" Report

The SEC has announced an investigation after a fake report indicating that Steve Jobs had suffered a major heart attack caused Apple (AAPL) stock to drop 10%. The report first appeared on CNN's iReport citizen journalism site, which describes itself as a source of "Unedited. Unfiltered. News."

CNN says it is cooperating with the investigation, giving the SEC what information it has about johntw. While most likely this will be limited to an IP address and an email address, it's quite possible the SEC will catch the peson.

CNN has a disclaimer on the iReport site:
The views and content on this site are solely those of the iReport.com contributors. CNN makes no guarantees about the content or the coverage on iReport.com!
The report, since removed, said:
Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven't seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.
CNN issued the following statement:
iReport.com is an entirely user-generated site where the content is determined by the community. Content that does not comply with Community Guidelines will be removed. After the content in question was uploaded to iReport.com, the community brought it to our attention. Based on our Terms of Use that govern user behavior on iReport.com, the fraudulent content was removed from the site and the user’s account was disabled.
This highlights the major flow of citizen journalism: anyone can post to these sites, and how do you know just who is trustworthy and, at least to a point, profession. So much of the "news" on these sites is junk or spam. Some sites (e.g., Huliq) do not publish stories from users until an editor has "approved" them.

CNN has no such policy. Of course, bloggers in general can post anything they want, including obviously false stories --- out-and-out lies --- that people who fail to think take as true, particularly in the political sector.

The timing of the post was particularly noteworthy, being just prior to the market open on Friday. Apple stock has been in a steep slide since the middle of August, despite the company's continued stellar performance, due to concerns about the economy's dismal outlook.



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