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When Twitter’s disappointing earnings report was discovered and prematurely released by a financial intelligence firm on April 28, causing Twitter shares to tumble, it was more than a just a big oops for the social media giant. The affair has thrown a spotlight on the shadowy world of bots – computer programs that crawl the web and perform tasks at a volume and speed a human could never match – and the legal and ethical grey areas they increasingly operate in.
According to multiple news reports, this is how the results got out: NASDAQ OMX Group’s Shareholder.com accidentally posted the earnings release on Twitter’s publicly available investor-relations page for 45 seconds about an hour before the results were supposed to go public. Selerity, a New York company that offers a “real-time news and event detection platform” to investors, found the release – presumably through the use of automated web-scraping bots – and tweeted the information.
“No leak, no hack,” the company tweeted.
That may be true, but does that make it right?
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