Apple: Fake Memo Didn't Come from Internal Server

Apple attempted to squash the confusion surrounding a fake memo published on AOL blog Engadget Wednesday, which claimed both the iPhone and Leopard were being delayed and temporarily led to a major drop in Apple stock. The company says the memo was not sent from its servers.

Instead, the fake memo was simply crafted to look like it came from Apple and contained the same wording that typically accompanies legitimate internal communication from the company's Bullet News system. The e-mail was then sent to a handful of employees, one of whom passed it to Engadget.

Within minutes, Apple's stock tumbled two percent, falling to an Intraday low of $103.42. This was after the stock opened the day up over $1.30 from its previous close. As it closed in on the end of the day's trading, the stock had still not managed to recoup all of its losses.

Apple lost four billion dollars in market capitalization in just six minutes.

Engadget claimed in an update to its original post that the e-mail "was an ACTUAL email distributed within Apple's internal email system to Apple employees." This statement led many to defend the blog's actions.

"I have to say that I, too, would have posted this news based on the source. The email was in fact sent from Apple’s email server to Apple employees and was then forwarded to Engadget from a trusted source," commented high-profile blogger Michael Arrington.

Even Jupiter Research vice president Michael Gartenberg -- a long proponent of getting the story right rather than first -- supported the site, stating that, "I don't if I would have acted differently than Ryan did. Engadget had a legitimate Apple email, coming from a source at Apple."

But Apple now says that the e-mail did not come from its internal email system, which indicates that a check of the message's headers could have revealed the hoax. The company did not say whether it would try to find the individual responsible for the fake memo.

AOL's Ryan Block, who manages Engadget and posted the original memo, apologized on the site late Thursday. In the posting, Block explained that the memo "by all appearances was a legitimate email from Apple corporate."

He also responded to the questionable point in the memo that said a press release had been issued to announce the delay of the iPhone and Leopard. Block believed a press release would come later, and the site would have been doing a "disservice to our readers" had it sat on the story until confirmation.

Due to the seeming manipulation in Apple's stock price, the SEC could take action, but would not confirm whether or not it was investigating the matter.

"The fact is that big blogs now have an incredible amount of power to move information quickly, and influence people more broadly than ever before. I’m not sure we (bloggers) understood quite how much influence we really had until yesterday," added Arrington.

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