Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Indeed, Google has a long memory

We ended today's class on blogging and personal brand management discussing the idea that Google has a really good memory. When I came back to my office and opened my RSS reader, I thought what better example to illustrate this point than the United Airlines Bankruptcy story. Granted, this story doesn't pertain to a personal brand, but it definitely shows that information on the Internet lives on long after it isn't news any longer. Here's a timeline of what happened (as I understand it):
2002: The Chicago Tribune publishes an article announcing that United Airlines will be filing for bankruptcy.

Sept. 06, 2008: 
  1. The 2002 story reappears on the Florida's Sun-Sentinel's website. According to Gawker, the page also contained a map of hurricane Ike giving the impression that this was a new story
  2. According to Google's blog: Google crawler discovered a new link on the Florida Sun-Sentinel website in a section of the most viewed stories labeled "Popular Stories: Business" and followed it to an article on United Airlines filing for bankruptcy. It concluded that the article date was Sept. 7th, 2008, indexed the page and made it available through Google News search
Sept. 8, 2008:
  1. A reporter googling bankruptcies on Google's News search picks up the story from the Florida Sun Sentinel and supplies it to the Bloomberg news service
  2. Bloomberg sends out the story
  3. Within minutes United Airlines' shares sink 75% 
  4. Oops!
This should go to show that even 6-year-old information can still come to hurt you...

Ps: Steve Rubel just published an interesting post discussing the role of news aggregators in this debacle.

1 comment:

Megan said...

As we say in SEO: "Google never forgets." Companies pay thousands a year for online reputation management to avoid this very issue. Great post!