Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Case Study: The Down Side of Internet Communications

You have probably heard about the abrupt disruption in UAL's stock trading on Monday. Apparently an old newspaper article about the firm's 2002 bankruptcy court filing resurfaced on the Internet, where it was robotically determined to be "new" (since it was not properly dated) and republished. Needless to say, the stock suffered an immediate drop until trading was briefly closed.

The speed with which all this occurred is breathtaking. Google's web crawler reportedly searched the sourced site at 10:17 pm on the prior Saturday night. The crawler returned at 10:36 pm (only 19 minutes later) and found what it considered to be the new story. A few reader "hits" on the "new" story apparently gave it the search engine boost needed to generate higher visibility on the web. From there word travelled fast, aided by some other automated news distributors.

This definitely is a case of the double-edged sword. As marketers, we want the Internet to carry the great news about our business services far and wide as quickly as possible, but one wrong turn can cause tremendous damage.

Quality control and human intervention remain critical components when publishing information on the Internet. While this is certainly an extreme example, it is a reminder of the respect and care needed in both content management and systems oversight.

This case is also an interesting example of the intricate legal disputes that emerge in our interwoven, electronic world.

1 comment:

Patti Spencer said...

Very interesting. I just read the Twitter Handbook - http://twitterhandbook.com/blog/handbook/ - here is another downside. Every tweet is stored and part of permanent history - be careful what you say!