The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the recent, but temporary, nosedive in United Airlines stock spurred by the republication of a 6-year-old article about the company’s bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports. The agency has begun a preliminary investigation to see whether any shady behavior was involved, but there's no guarantee a full-blown probe will follow.
The stock tanked when Google's automated news aggregator picked up the old article from a Florida newspaper. “Anytime anyone spreads false information over radio, TV, Internet message boards or chat rooms, that will raise questions as to whether someone is committing securities fraud,” an SEC official said. The Tribune Company says a single hit on the article, at a slow time, bumped it to a most-popular list on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel website, prompting the Google pick-up.