NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - The Dow Jones newswire headline seemed too far-fetched to be true. And it was.
"Google to buy Apple for US$9 billion (S$12 billion)," it read. Apple has a market valuation of US$800 billion.
So, was there a hack? Had the tech world gone mad?
Neither, it turned out. The bogus headline was accidentally sent out to Dow Jones subscribers around the world on Tuesday morning (Oct 10). Before readers realised it was not true, there was a slight bump in Apple's stock price.
The brief story beneath the headline made it clear that something had gone awry at the news service, a trusted source for the trading and investment industries. It reported that the merger was "a surprise move to anyone who is alive", adding that "Google chief executive Larry Page had secret talks with the now-deceased Steve Jobs in 2010 to firm up the deal".
The outlandish headline and story were, in reality, part of a technology test and not intended for publication. Dow Jones, a subsidiary of News Corp, asked subscribers to "disregard the headlines" and removed the erroneous reports from the newswire.
But by then, the mistake had been picked up by social media.
"I take today's inadvertent and erroneous publication of testing materials extremely seriously," Mr William Lewis, chief executive of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, said in a statement. "While immediate corrective action has been taken, I have also ordered a review of news and technology processes in this area."