A fake news article that caused Twitter stock to spike briefly Tuesday is underscoring concerns that a flood of new Web domains could empower fraudsters.
The bogus article, made to look almost exactly like a Bloomberg News story, claimed that Twitter was in buyout talks for $31 billion. The story caused Twitter's stock to shoot up more than 8 percent before falling back down. Whoever created the site could have profited by buying Twitter stock and then selling before the price fell, a scheme known as "pump and dump."
The article used a bloomberg.market Web address, while real Bloomberg stories use bloomberg.com. According to the Whois domain registry, the site was created four days ago by an anonymous group with a P.O. Box in Panama.
The ".market" domain is just one of hundreds of new Web address endings authorized last year by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a nonprofit group that manages the Web's address system. A company called Rightside Registry bought the rights to oversee the .market domain. ICANN plans to allow a total of more than 1,300 new such "top-level" domains within a few years.
Tuesday's incident is only the latest example of readers and investors being fooled by fake news articles using unusual or confusing domain names. A site using the address "nytimes.com.co" posted numerous bogus stories, and a fake press release in 2012 claiming that a small Wi-Fi company called ICOA had been bought by Google also caused a spike in the firm's stock price.