Sun-Sentinel, UAL story resurface thanks to Google

Follow up on UAL stock falls after Sun-Sentinel posts old story.

WSJ: SEC Opens Early Inquiry Into UAL GlitchThe preliminary inquiry comes as the agency has stepped up its efforts to combat the spreading of false rumors.

Wired: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Googlebots — From a Tribune statement: “We asked Google to stop using Googlebot and use site maps instead. We’re happy to have Google acquire information from our sites, we just asked them to do it more accurately because we were aware of problems with Googlebot.”

One issue to this story that is not reported as much are the automated trades triggered by algorithms that read press releases and news stories. See WSJ: UAL Story Blame Is Placed on Computer.

The damage was exacerbated by the growing use on Wall Street of automated programs that trigger stock trades without any human interaction. The so-called algorithmic trading mechanisms, which buy and sell stocks based on news headlines and earnings data, were responsible for roughly a quarter of New York Stock Exchange trades in the last week of August.

NY Times: A Stock-Killer Fueled by Algorithm After Algorithm

As for preventing another similar incident, leaving sharper date cues for Google would seem to be far easier than changing the habits of millions of readers. In this case, though, it only took one reader to open the barn door for United stock’s shockingly swift decline — the one working at Income Securities Advisers, who saw the item on Google News and sent out a summary of it on Bloomberg News.

So algorithm’s miss one every so often. The probably make too many millions of dollars to stop using them.

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