Gadget blogs like Gizmodo and Engadget are in the business of spreading news and rumors quickly, but to be taken seriously, blogs need to label all unconfirmed information as speculation. This is especially important for big news like the Apple iPhone delay rumor Engadget erroneously posted this morning.
They quickly redacted the factual errors, but not before the stock tumbled 3%, as people sold off many Apple shares. Apple's market cap, according to Valleywag, dipped $4 billion. Business 2.0 Blogs are quoting commenters as asking for an SEC investigation. Ars reports that someone sold off millions of shares within minutes of the post. People lost a lot of money, because of something they read that was wrong.
People have asked me if I'm gleeful. Hell no. Giz and Engaga are in the same boat. This sort of thing affects our rep, too. Sure, I could take a swipe at Engadget's reliability. I could put my fingers in my ears and shout, Nya Nyaa Boo Boo and stick my tongue out at my competitors. But I won't. Ryan, the real heart of Engadget's daily operations, is a great guy and I respect his work. We're both in the same situation of having to post news quickly, sometimes before confirmation. I knew that Apple would never spout this info internally without making it public first, but someone here could have easily made the same mistake if they weren't paying attention or drunk, which sadly happens quite often here. (Travis and Chen!)
Jokes aside, now is as good a time as any to tell you guys about some rules we've been working around the last few months: As stated above, we'll label unconfirmed information as rumor until we know it's true, and update existing posts with new data, which can be found under our corrections tag. So let us know when we get it wrong. And going forward, we'll be hiring even more traditionally trained journalists (not the boring, slow kind, but the kind that report). We will continue to speculate wildly on boob-shaped gadgets.
BTW, here's Apple's response to me, which confirmed the gut feeling:
This communication is fake and did not come from Apple. Apple is on track to ship iPhone in late June and Mac OS X Leopard in October.
When I asked them what would happen to the poor soul who forwarded both the real and fake email from within Apple's network, I got no response. Frankly, I think the stupid son of a bitch is already dead.
Apple employees: When you tip us, don't do it from within the Infinite Loop Matrix Network! (But Giz loyal readers, you knew that already.)
Don't believe everything you hear: iPhone and Leopard NOT delayed [Jacqui at Ars]
Apple has a Worm..Can that Worm [WSJ Blogs]
Fake Memo Roils Apple Stock; Investors Call for SEC Probe [Biz 2.0]
Engadget sends Apple stock plunging on iPhone rumor [CNet]
[Disclosure: AOL's Engadget is the main competitor to Gizmodo, Gawker Media's gadget blog. ]