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Steve Jobs Heart Attack Hoax Burns CNN, Citizen Journalism

Given the impact on Apple stock, the incident could spark an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A false report that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs suffered a heart attack has given news network CNN a hard lesson in citizen journalism.

The report appeared Friday morning on CNN's iReport, which posts "unedited, unfiltered" news from anyone who signs up with the site. Apple stock took a 10-point dive after the report appeared, but quickly recovered when it was found to be false and removed from the site.

CNN issued a statement after the incident, saying that it was first notified of the false report by other iReport users.

"Based on our Terms of Use that govern user behavior on iReport.com, the fraudulent content was removed from the site and the user's account was disabled," said the statement, which was reprinted on the Silicon Alley Insider Web site.

SAI was among the first to discredit the report by contacting Katie Cotton, Apple's VP of worldwide communications, who said, "It is not true." The site also posted the original report, which said:

"Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven't seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it."

Given the impact on Apple stock -- as much as 5.4% decline in share price at one point -- the incident could spark an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

IReport is an entirely user-generated site where content, including video, photos, audio, and text is posted without any filter, much like video content is uploaded to YouTube. In this instance, however, the CNN brand, which is prominently displayed on the site, apparently added credibility to the initial posting.

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