First off, let's just establish that Steve Jobs, Apple's enigmatic CEO and pom-pom waver, is absolutely fine – nothing wrong with him at all. After which, we can safely move onto examine why false reports about his health gave Apple the stock market hiccups yesterday.
More than 3 per cent was wiped off the company's market value yesterday when traders reacted to news that Jobs had been taken to hospital with a heart attack.
Given Jobs' recent health scares, that would be understandable were it not complete fabrication – the 'news' appeared on iReport.com, a CNN website cased on contributions from so-called citizen journalists.
Naturally, CNN removed the false claim and suspended the user responsible, but the episode highlights the wisdom of giving prominence to unsubstantiated amateur reports, not to mention the lack of accountability of individuals unaffiliated to news organisations.
CNN explained its process: "Content that does not comply with community guidelines will be removed. After the content in question was uploaded to iReport.com, the community brought it to our attention."
Clearly, rumours and scuttlebutt will be around as long as the human race, but we wonder if jittery traders will ever learn not to jump a mile at the sound of the tiniest twig snapping underfoot. It's called acting responsibly.