The Dow Jones newswire rattled markets on Tuesday by publishing a clearly fake story claiming that Google was buying Apple. The story claimed that Apple founder Steve Jobs put the purchase price—an absurdly small $9 billion—in his will.
Dow Jones blamed a “technical error” and quickly retracted the story.
“Please disregard the headlines that ran on Dow Jones Newswires between 9:34 am ET and 9:36 am ET,” the news wire said in a statement.
It’s not unusual for news organizations to write bogus stories for internal testing purposes. Dow Jones staffers apparently did that at some point in the past, then someone screwed up by pushing the “publish” button.
The story contained a number of clues that it was inaccurate. The reported $9 billion purchase price is barely one percent of Apple’s $800 billion market value. The story also refers to “Google Chief Executive Larry Page,” a position he hasn’t held since Google’s parent company Alphabet was created in 2015.
The story said that “the deal was announced when Jobs’s will was read in Cupertino, California.” But Apple is a widely-held public company—Jobs wouldn’t have been able to arrange such a sale in his will.
“Obviously, Google will move into Apple’s fancy headquarters,” the story read. “Google employees said, ‘Yay.'”