Shares of UAL lost 75% of its value in seconds, plummeting as low as $3 from $12.30 prior to the story appearing on Google. Some investors in UAL stock lost a ton of money. The stock hit an all time low on heavy volume.
The shares bounced back after the market realized it was a 6-year old story on the company’s 2002 bankruptcy filing that appeared on Google. Investors who sold on the news were stuck.
Google declined comment on the incident. Later, it blamed the Sentinel for posting the 2002 Chicago Tribune article on their website. The Nasdaq Stock Market, where UAL shares are listed, said trades triggered by the erroneous report wouldn’t be rescinded. The Google story then was picked up by Income Securities Advisors, a Florida investment newsletter, and disseminated over Bloomberg News triggering a wave of panic selling. It appeared as ”United Airlines files for Ch. 11 to cut costs.”
Amazin' ain't it? No wonder Google is facing antitrust investigations due to the immense power it yields.