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Automated News Crawling Evaporates $1.14B

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the who-shall-watch-the-watchers dept.

Google 546

cmd writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that Google News crawled an obscure reprint of an article from 2002 when United Airlines was on the brink of bankruptcy. United Airlines has since recovered but due to a missing dateline, Google News ran the story as today's news. The story was then picked up by other news aggregators and eventually headlined as a news flash on Bloomberg. This triggered automated trading programs to dump UAL, cratering the stock from $12 to $3 and evaporating 1.14 billion dollars (nearly United's total market cap today) in shareholder wealth. The stock recovered within the day to $10 and is now trading at $9.62, a market cap of $300M less than before Google ran the story." The article makes clear that Google's news bot only noticed the old story because it has been voted up in popularity on the site of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper. The original thought was that stock manipulation may have been behind the incident, but this suspicion seems to be fading.

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546 comments

BEHOLD.... (5, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951561)

... the power of the GOOG!!

Re:BEHOLD.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951831)

The story begins in the summer of 1995 when a Standford graduate student finds himself -- without a suitcase -- pacing back in forth in front of an empty United baggage carousel at 4 AM. ....

That graduate student's name: Sergey Brin.

And, now you know "the rest of the story".

With apologies to Casey Kasem.

Re:BEHOLD.... (5, Informative)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952063)

And, now you know "the rest of the story".

That's Paul Harvey's tagline, not Casey Kasem.

Re:BEHOLD.... (4, Informative)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952077)

And, now you know "the rest of the story".

With apologies to Casey Kasem.

I think you mean Paul Harvey [wikipedia.org].

No big deal. It's not like you reported a six-year-old story as if it were a current event.

Re:BEHOLD.... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24952085)

Paul Harvey

Re:BEHOLD.... (2, Funny)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951899)

Do no evil, I might have to start calling Larry Page or Sergey Brin (Google founders) the axis of evil.

Re:BEHOLD.... (5, Informative)

Shade of Pyrrhus (992978) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952129)

So...they're evil because their crawler posted a recently placed news article that didn't have a published date? Or are they evil because the automated trading applications grabbed it and ran to the bank?

On all ends it was a failure of new technology, but what really caused all of the $$ to fly was human error: no one at Tribune put a date on the initial article, no one (or at least quickly enough) from Google put a date on the crawled article, and the stock investors didn't look carefully at their applications.

Holy crap. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951569)

When you're talking about numbers like that then there is definitely a responsibility somewhere to try to prevent it happening again.

Re:Holy crap. (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951717)

How about outlawing automated trading programs?
sounds like a solution to me.

Re:Holy crap. (5, Insightful)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952027)

Why is outlawing them even remotely necessary? It is the responsibility of the investor to make sure their tools are functioning properly, and noone elses.

Re:Holy crap. (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952031)

"Program trading" only sometimes refers to anything automated. The name doesn't imply "computer program", merely a set of rules to be followed upon certain events. Computer automation adds little to the problem - people reacting to the news flash with orders to trade on such news will screw up just as badly, and almost as fast.

Being the first to react to news has *always* been a way to make money in the stock market, and in todays world where news speads at internet speed, staying ahead of the public spread of fresh news requires acting before there's time to use any sort of judgement.

If your not comfortable with this sort of crazy BS, investing in individual stocks is not for you. IMO, investing in individual stocks is a mistake for anyone tht doesn't do tht full time, and most who do (to judge by the track records of most indivdual money managers, hedge funds, and even mutual funds).

Re:Holy crap. (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952061)

Does that work for WoW?

Serious question. The stakes are much, much higher on wall street, and someone is guaranteed to skirt the rules. Even if you manage to convince the major traders to get rid of scripts executing trades they're going to pile onto the gray edges if they think it gives them a competitive advantage (which they do, or they wouldn't be using them.) Think a person in a chair "reviewing" software recommended purchases, and clicking the buy or sell button every time the software tells them to. It'd be like reverse boting.

Re:Holy crap. (5, Insightful)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952081)

How about outlawing automated trading programs? sounds like a solution to me.

How about letting stupid people lose money? Sounds like a better solution to me.

Re:Holy crap. (5, Insightful)

Underfoot (1344699) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951723)

If the interactions were truly due to automation and not active stock manipulations, then I think the responsibility lies in the investor who was stupid enough to use automation and "triggers" to place their trades. That said, I am sure anyone who day traded today made a bundle of money if they hit the swings right. The market has become emotional, and often lacks reason. A lot of it comes from things like "lack of research" and making the market a pure number / target / trigger driven game that the hedge fund can sell you in their little black box.

Wild. That's all I have to say.

Re:Holy crap. (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951813)

Unfortunately, automation/stock triggers ("sell when X", etc) are the only way for the common-man trader who isn't an on-the-ground insider member of one of the stock exchanges to make a timely trade.

The stock market is itself a pretty asinine setup; a large number of insiders (the only guys allowed on the floor) are allowed to run around trading back and forth, "increasing" the wealth of themselves and the people who hire them based on a relatively arbitrary stock valuation number at a given time. The rest of the world has to work through intermediaries to make a stock transaction and invest in various companies/funds, and pay a brokering fee (further enhancing the wealth only of the lucky-enough-to-get-in brokers) each step of the way.

End result: those who are NOT in the loop (e.g. the little guy) gets screwed, those who ARE in the insular center keep getting wealthier.

Re:Holy crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24952093)

Seems like there is an opportunity to create a purely online stock exchange, where all subscribers trade on equal terms?

Re:Holy crap. (2, Insightful)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951843)

Part of the problem is in the way things were automated. a few people have stop-losses on their stocks, so that if the stock drops half its value in a day, they automatically sell it so they don't lose everything.

They actually lost more on this day because of that, and that's probably the worst thing that happened. Now people are going to be less likely to believe in those systems, and could end up losing 100% of their life savings if it isn't a boy crying wolf next time.

Re:Holy crap. (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951897)

Actually it is exactly the boy crying wolf that causes those systems to fail. Had the stock actually permanently crashed, those stop loss systems did exactly what they are designed for.

Re:Holy crap. (3, Insightful)

Mouse42 (765369) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951993)

No one should lose 100% of their life savings due to one stock going wonky. If that's true, they're dumbasses for not diversifying.

Re:Holy crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24952133)

Diversify ya bonds, nigga.

Re:Holy crap. (1)

Keith_Beef (166050) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951893)

That said, I am sure anyone who day traded today made a bundle of money if they hit the swings right.

No, not today.

This happened a couple of days ago. This is old news, as far as share price swings go...

http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=UAUA#chart1:symbol=uaua;range=5d;indicator=volume;charttype=line;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=on;source=undefined

K.

Re:Holy crap. (2, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951995)

The stock was down only very briefly, presumably as other automatic programs (or maybe even the same ones) triggered a BUYBUYBUY! when the stock dove like that. The price was $11.71 at 10:56am, then the stock price bottomed out at $3.72 at 11:00am, then bounced back to $7.28 at 11:04am. Someone paying close attention could have made quite a nice pile.

Re:Holy crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24952023)

You know nothing about trading if you call people using automatic stopp loss as stupic.

Re:Holy crap. (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952127)

and that's all fine and good for the investors who got into trouble, but what about United? Should they be subject to these massive swings in value - which has real impact to things like credit availability - or should they just suck it up as part of the price they pay for being publicly traded?

Re:Holy crap. (5, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951727)

Who's responsibility though? Should Google have people fact check every news story their bots pick up before putting it up on the aggregator? Should stock companies put fact checkers between the newsfeeds and their stock sale bots? Should online newspapers have fact checkers on every article they put online?

This does show just how fragile a system can be when there is a strong disincentive to going second or third on tasks that one would normally think you should have human interaction.

Re:Holy crap. (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952021)

Should online newspapers have fact checkers on every article they put online?

Abso-fracking-lutely.

Along with the right to a free press comes the responsibility to be right. Most newspapers ignore the responsibility while hiding behind the right.

Re:Holy crap. (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952035)

I don't think you can blame anyone- it's a series of seperate systems that are just doing what they are designed to do. The problem is none of the systems are smart enough to have a check to them (and at this point, I'm not sure what kind of an automated check could have stopped this). No one system did anything wrong... if anything, everything worked just as it should have.

The scary thing here is just how complex things have gotten. Who could have seen this coming? I think we're really hitting a critical mass (The Subprime crisis is also part of this, and in some ways, global warming) where complexities have gotten beyond our control, and weird things like this will happen.

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid

Re:Holy crap. (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952103)

I fail to see the problem. Some investors jumped the gun and sold stock that was worth more than they sold it for, because they relied on bad information. The fact that they used automated systems to do this is irrelevant. There was no deception here; anybody could have checked the story themselves in a few seconds and realized what happened. So, you can always be first, or always be right, take your pick. Let the market choose a tradeoff between speed and accuracy.

Re:Holy crap. (4, Insightful)

doconnor (134648) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951739)

Yes, but I don't think the main responsibility is with Google. Google can make mistakes. It's all the other news organizations and stock selling software should be blindly following Google's news bot.

A lot of dumb people probably lost a lot of money, while a lot of smart people probably made a lot of money over this.

Re:Holy crap. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952141)

A lot of dumb people probably lost a lot of money, while a lot of smart people probably made a lot of money over this.

Eh? Really? The world is a meritocracy then? I don't think so. A lot of dumb people are well connected, and made out like bandits. Sure, lot of smart people put money into funds and let experts handle it, but even the experts got tripped up on this one.

It's very easy and satisfying to assume that everyone who makes money deserves it because they are smart and good. It's also a big relief to assume that everyone who gets hurt is stupid or deserved it. Unfortunately, that kind of moral reasoning is the equivalent of masturbation. While it may be fun, only perverts want to watch you do it.

Re:Holy crap. (4, Interesting)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951745)

I'm curious about the trading bots. Were the trading bots dumping the stock in 2002? So, if this story were *current* would the bots have simply destroyed UA?

Re:Holy crap. (1)

danzona (779560) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952043)

Were the trading bots dumping the stock in 2002?

Not really. UA had announced ahead of time that they were in trouble and would be filing for protection from creditors. So the stock price at the time reflected this public information.

So, if this story were *current* would the bots have simply destroyed UA?

Sort of. The stock price reflected no public knowledge of this level of trouble at UA, and was therefore overpriced. The sell off wouldn't have driven the stock price to $0, but it would drive the price down to one that reflected a company that was filing for creditor protection for the second time in 6 years.

Re:Holy crap. (2, Informative)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952107)

You're confusing the common stock with the company. UA destroyed UA. The common is *supposed to* go to 0 when a corp goes bankrupt - the bankruptcy proceedings are a way for the company to survive or at least pay off senior debtors, but junior debtors get nothing.

Re:Holy crap. (0, Troll)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951801)

Not at all. Not even a little bit. Shut your fucking mouth.

This was a coincidence. This was a situation where one news aggregator picked something up and it perpetuated and snowballed through other aggregators. It was then thrown to normal people who took their actions. At no point did anyone do anything malicious, at no point was there a lie, and at no point was something so wrong that it should be regulated/made criminal.

We're in an economic downturn, there was some hysteria over a bogus news story, something happened that shouldn't have. This isn't a sign that there needs to be controls or something done "to try to prevent it happening again", at least not outside the organizations that made the mistakes. The aggregators will fix what they did wrong and it won't happen again in the future.

Re:Holy crap. (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951943)

Oh man....

Youre telling me that the stock industry and the financial system does not need someone checking it for saneness?

So... no harm done on those subprimes, huh? Just a bunch of really nice guys making money through HARD work that actually benefit society one way or another, huh?

Okay. Whatever you say.

I shall "shut my fucking mouth" now.

Re:Holy crap. (1)

joebok (457904) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952089)

It isn't a "coincidence" - it is a cause and effect chain, as you yourself outlined (one aggregator picked up a story, spread to others, then noticed by people, who then took actions).

If there are no direct consequences, what will motivate the fixing of the problem?

"... and it won't happen again in the future." Seems wildly optimistic. One, I think an undated story isn't the only bug in the system. People of nefarious intent have now noticed how powerful this is - I'll bet we see more and more clever ways to get incorrectly dated stories picked up and promulgated in similar fashions.

But in general, I agree with the sentiment of the post. This isn't a "save the children" issue - nobody should go to jail and I don't think any legislation is necessary. But it does expose a dependency in our systems that we would be wise to try to deal with.

Already Discussed in Idle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951577)

This was posted yesterday in Idle [slashdot.org] and cites the Chicago Tribune as running the old article.

It's clear. Automated trading programs are morons (1)

cbelt3 (741637) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951585)

Time to stop using you xBox to run your financial empire, kids. Get the grizzled old traders back and fire the children.

Re:It's clear. Automated trading programs are moro (5, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951709)

Time to stop using you xBox to run your financial empire, kids. Get the grizzled old traders back and fire the children.

Never happen.

Every brokerage house in the country is increasing their presence in "Automated Trading". The majority of these companies income is now made on small percentage point fluctuations brokered very fast. With the automated systems pulling in that much more money than the traditional ones, and with more algorithms being designed (and held as proprietary info), what would YOU do?

Ridiculous? Yes. Not going away? Also Yes.

Might as well vote to bring back the horse drawn carriage since the price of gas has risen so much lately.

Re:It's clear. Automated trading programs are moro (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951961)

With the automated systems pulling in that much more money than the traditional ones, and with more algorithms being designed (and held as proprietary info), what would YOU do?

Find their buttons... Then press them.

 

Re:It's clear. Automated trading programs are moro (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951735)

That's more likely than you think. The equity lost by those dumping the stock automatically (for a loss) will be tragic for those involved. On the other hand, the sharp traders who noticed what happened and bought at the discounted price had turned a tidy profit by the end of the day. All in all, a day later the stock is right back to riding the whim of the indexes and no one other than those who traded in that window are affected.

big bad bot battle (4, Funny)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951629)

So the NewsBots trick the TradeBots, and we humans are left on the sidelines, hoping that we don't get squished in the process.

Sounds like a sad Transformers sequel.

Re:big bad bot battle (1, Offtopic)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951851)

Sounds like a sad Transformers sequel.

Almost as sad as the first one...

(If this doesn't get modded Insightful, I'm going to question the sanity of those who enjoy Shia LaBeouf's acting.)

Re:big bad bot battle (1, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952041)

Almost as sad as the first one...

(If this doesn't get modded Insightful, I'm going to question the sanity of those who enjoy Shia LaBeouf's acting.)

Great. Let's use mod-points to fuel a popularity contest based on who likes what movie. Super cool.

Re:big bad bot battle (2, Funny)

crunch_ca (972937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952123)

I for one, welcome our new NewsBots overlords...

No, wait, I welcome our new TradeBots overlords...

Yikes, who am I supposed to welcome? I welcome our new CowboyNealBots!

What if Google evaporates itself? (2, Interesting)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951645)

It would be so awesome if the Google news bot was able to dig up some old dirt on Google that would make it's ~$450 per share stock crater... that would be an awesome site to behold.

I doubt it'll happen, since there haven't been any previously bad financial reports that could come back and masquerade as current news, but you never know.

It also serves to show how fragile our financial system is (just read the "what if" reports on what would have happened if Fannie Mac/Freddie Mae were allowed to go under... it would have been BAD). Sure, United gained back most of its value but it's still down a good bit of cash. It reminds me of when Abbie Hoffman threw a bunch of $1 bills onto the NYSE trading floor and TRADING STOPPED as the floor traders ran around picking up the bills.

Re:What if Google evaporates itself? (4, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951761)

No, that wouldn't be awesome at all. It's amazing how ignorant slashdot users can obviously be if you take a second to think about the consequences of what they suggest. This is, in fact, the second time today I've responded to someone calling for the spectacular failure of a major company, in the middle of a major economic downturn. Ignoring the huge impact Google falling would have on our economy, maybe you can imagine something a little more practical, that hits home: What search engine do you use?

Re:What if Google evaporates itself? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951853)

Maybe you don't understand the original definition of awesome:full of awe. As in shock and awe. Not necessarily a good thing, just something that by its own grandeur of scope inspires awe in even the most numb of us.

Re:What if Google evaporates itself? (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951971)

No, what is amazing is how Slashdot users can fail to properly parse a paragraph and read between the lines a little.

Re:What if Google evaporates itself? (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952017)

Oh, and I should say "Fannie MAE, Freddie MAC", not the other way around. Whoops.

Maybe (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951663)

It's because google is going to launch their own airline [gmailtools.com].

Maybe their own airline? (2, Funny)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952091)

"It's because Google is going to launch their own airline."

Yeah, they'll call it "United Airlines BETA".

that'll teach you. (5, Funny)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951685)

"I'm sorry, Mr. Schmidt. Your flight has been delayed by two hours."

"Son of a... do you people know who I am? Dammit, get Brin on the phone."

BBC News - Most Read (2, Interesting)

locster (1140121) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951691)

I've noticed a few time lately that the BBC News site's 'most read' list contains stories from years ago. It's very misleading because the links are on the main news page and the date, although present at the top of each story, is fairly subdued. I've been caught out a couple of times by this. Of course, once a story gets on the 'most read' list everyone clicks on it pushing it further up the list and prolonging its being there.

Makes my mistakes look small (2, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951701)

I'll have to point to this next time someone finds an error on my website.

Holy SHIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951703)

Thats a LOT of money.

A lot of people's fault, mostly NOT google's (5, Insightful)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951715)

After reading TFA, it sounds like google is LEAST to blame out of the many many automated systems involved. First of all, the damn story should have been dated. That's the tribune's fault. Google doesn't seem to have claimed it as today's news, only ranked it high up. No one should have ever reprinted the story without actually CHECKING WITH UNITED AIR FIRST. That's neither google nor the tribune's fault. That's every service that reprinted the story as new without verifying its fault. Google and tribune seem least at fault because neither ever gave any indication it was a new story.

Re:A lot of people's fault, mostly NOT google's (5, Insightful)

arcmay (253138) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951871)

From the article:
"the UAL story began circulating widely via a posting by research firm Income Securities Advisors Inc. that was made available to users of Bloomberg L.P., the financial-news service widely watched on Wall Street."

Some analyst at a research firm made a big deal about the outdated article, after seeing it on Google news. THAT PERSON is the point of failure.

If you blame Google for this, you might as well blame Google for anyone posting any erroneous information they found after doing an internet search.

Hello? Is this thing on? (5, Interesting)

szquirrel (140575) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951725)

Google News crawled an obscure reprint...

The story was then picked up by other news aggregators...

This triggered automated trading programs...

Is there even a live person at the wheel anymore? Or is SkyNet just fucking with us now?

Re:Hello? Is this thing on? (1)

locster (1140121) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951987)

Wisdom has it that skynet will launch a nuclear attack, whereas in actual fact it is planning to crash the world's economies with erroneous news feeds. Basically while we're all out queuing to get our money out of the bank it's going to lock all the doors so we can't get back in...anywhere!

GIGO (2, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951747)

Cautionary tale for the Web 2.0/semantic web or whatever they are calling it now.

"News bot, how did this happen?" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951767)

"It's my first day."

meanwhile in the legion of doom's headquarters... (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951819)

So the question becomes, how can we replicate this issue at the time of our choosing and tank a stock to buy it up? Personalyy I would love to try to get a seat on the microsoft board.

Re:meanwhile in the legion of doom's headquarters. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24952049)

How did it become a "Popular Stories" article all of a sudden? Maybe it was intentional, or maybe not. From TFA:

"It remains unclear how the old story rocketed onto the list of most popular stories. Tribune said online traffic began to tick up beginning earlier Saturday evening. Some UAL investors suspected there were efforts to manipulate Web traffic in order to sow fears about UAL's financial condition.

There may be a more innocuous explanation, however: Amid serious storms in Florida and on the East Coast, Web surfers checking for news about travel delays may have stumbled onto the old UAL story by mistake, and a small number of fresh hits may have been enough to drive it onto the list. "

legal perspective (4, Insightful)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951833)

I am by no means a lawyer but it sounds like the automated trading software has the majority of the blame since it is the one that actually intiated the trade. So what if google descided to reprint old news...nothing wrong with that.

Re:legal perspective (4, Informative)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951923)

I agree. I worked a lot with stock trading management software, but I didn't know about automated ones that would buy/dump stocks over news items. (The one I worked on would simply analyze a set of rule and then dumped a recommendation, with all of its reasoning and justifications, that a human then reviews, check/unchecked their modification, and then ran -that- through automated trading systems).

Doing it 100% automatically just sounds crazy to me. Especially if its based on uncontroled, automated -news- for christ sake.

So who gets sued? (2, Insightful)

greymond (539980) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951839)

I wonder who gets sued for this. Obviously Google's Crawler was at fault, somewhat, but that one error shows a flaw in a lot of other news site handling of information (or misinformation as this was), especially Bloomberg - all for lack of actually double checking sources and dare I mention, actual facts, before running a story.

In a day and age where everyone is automating news feeds, I'd like to believe that someone out there should be responsible for approving posts - much like how I do syndicated posts on my wordpress blog...of course, asking for someone to take responsibility for anything in America is asking too much anyway...

Artificial Intelligence vs Natural Stupidity (4, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952005)

I wonder who gets sued for this. Obviously Google's Crawler was at fault, somewhat

How do you figure that? It's doing what it's supposed to. The problem wasn't the crawler, it's the people who thought the crawler was some kind of magic AI that could find relevant stories for them.

Maybe if (4, Insightful)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951877)

Maybe if the industry you were in wasn't on the brink of an economic disaster for the past 7 years an old story being dug up by Google News wouldn't have had such a drastic impact.

Oh, so sorry, a mistake was made... (1)

Ardipithecus (985280) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951929)

it's nobody's fault, but your dog is dead, lolz, but it's unlikely to happen again, at least to your dog

Sounds Suspicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24951937)

Wouldn't there have been a date from when the article was written? Sounds to me like someone else may have helped this happen.

___

Beleive nothing you hear, half of what you see, and everything you track with vehicle tracking [rmtracking.com]!

Because it is print does not make it true!!! (1)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 5 years ago | (#24951949)

I'm sure if someone had called UAL to do some fact checking before making a financial decision, they would have been told it was untrue.

It kinda highlights the deficiency in our media that this could make it past an editor. My guess there was no editor checking it before the South Florida Sun-Sentinel pushed the publish button.

It wasn't "in print" it was "in an archive". (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952105)

My guess there was no editor checking it before the South Florida Sun-Sentinel pushed the publish button.

The FLorida Sun-Sentinel published it in 2002. The date on the page was 2002. It was in their archives. They had a link on their website pointing to popular stories in their archives. Such links change minute by minute.

It's Bloomberg who should have had an editor in the loop.

The next Ponzi scheme? (3, Interesting)

sarysa (1089739) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952015)

Ouch.

That said, are automated trading systems going to be this decade's great Ponzi scheme? I can't believe so many people can be so lazy with their investments to send the stock tumbling that much.

It looks like the ones who'll ultimately get burned from this are are those who are careless with their money. But how soon before people take advantage of viral networking to manipulate Google's algorithms for determining popular news, bring up old doom and gloom articles to intentionally tank a stock so they can buy while it's cheap?

Evaporated 1.14 Billion (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952067)

...But the next day it magically created about 800 million as the stock climbed back up. Assuming it recovers back to the previous level, which it should, no money will have been lost. It will simply have moved from poor, knee-jerk investors to smarter investors.

A butterfly flaps . . . (2, Insightful)

PMuse (320639) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952069)

You're kidding me, right? Stockholders entrusted their assets to managers who entrusted their assets to tradebots. The tradebots/managers made bad decisions. How can the tradebots/managers/stockholders now blame anyone else for their incompetence?

Anyone who sells something of value based on a rumor this thin deserves what they get. As for those who didn't sell and still lost value, anyone who has been in the stock market for very long knows that you sometimes get what others deserve.

Butterfly effect in internet (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952095)

So a reader of an obscure newspaper voted up/submited an old archived story, it got popular from several others, got picked up by google news, then by market traders and, well, the perfect storm happened?

That is not the first time that automated scan of internet from google made big damages (remember the "hidden" passwords/files/ftplistings/etc that could still be found searching?), because people somewhat misbehaving creating sites, but at least is focused enough to be able to give some fast good hint on how much money was lost.

Now that google are scanning old newspapers, cant wait till someone pick a "new" story about the market crash of 1929.

The money didnt evaporate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24952115)

It went into the pockets of the people who aren't using automating trading bots, saw the price plummet, checked the facts, and decided to decrease their retirement age by a decade or two.

And yes, everyone is aghast that something like this could happen, but in the end it is a good thing. It is better for crazy broken shit to happen in a broken system than for the broken system to keep puttering along as usual -- increases the chances it might get fixed.

Forbes has a better writeup (4, Insightful)

RickRussellTX (755670) | more than 5 years ago | (#24952121)

This smells like a case of the Frankenstein complex to me. Although Google News may have linked the article in its recent results because of the fresh link on the Sun Sentinel home page, both the WSJ article and the Forbes investigation [forbes.com] make it very clear that the problem was a human editor who misinterpreted the original article and posted it as new information (with a freshly written headline) in a by-subscription-only investor information service that is carried on Bloomberg trading terminals.

A human saw the story, failed to check the date (there was no date line at the top of the article), refreshed it with a new headline, and republished it on a trading service that was believed to be a source of credible journalism by its readers.

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