How terrible is the Tribune-owned South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Web traffic? Terrible enough that one Web visitor in the middle of the night catapulted a six-year-old story about United Airlines’s 2002 bankruptcy onto the site’s “most popular” list… which ultimately shaved off 75% of United’s (UAUA) market cap.
In its latest explanation, Tribune said a single visit during a low-traffic period early Sunday morning pushed the undated story onto the list of most popular business news of its South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper’s Web site.
About 30 minutes after that visit, a user viewing a story about airline-cancellation policies during a storm-ravaged weekend clicked on the link for the old story. Seconds later, Google’s automated search agent, Googlebot, visited the Web site and found the story.
Soon after that, the story became available through Google News, and by Monday the article became more widely distributed to users of Bloomberg LP, the financial-news service widely watched on Wall Street.
The rest is history.
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