Sometimes, viral media can be toxic. A case in point: Based on a New York Times story, dozens of technology news and media sites "reported" that HP was abandoning its public cloud business. Alas, most of those industry pundits failed to take the most basic step -- they didn't check in with HP for comment. The result? Erroneous headlines that circled the globe.
According to an April 7 New York Times report, HP had "come to terms with the cloud" and would no longer compete head-on with Amazon Web Services. Bill Hilf, the head of HP's cloud business, said it "makes no sense to go head-to-head" against AWS.
That's when the online firestorm started. Dozens of media sites "reported" that HP Cloud -- the public cloud platform -- was essentially shutting down. The problem? None of the copycat reports actually included any original reporting. I suspect many of the copycats never bothered to read The Times coverage closely.
Nowhere in The Times report did HP say its public cloud was closing.
Indeed, HP's public cloud site remains open for business. By April 8, a day after the New York Times report, HP told ComputerWeekly and other media sites that HP remains committed to its cloud -- though head-on competition with AWS was not a priority.
In some ways you can potentially blame the victim: HP's statements to The New York Times were vague and could be misinterpreted. Moreover, HP should have issued a clear statement right on its website (something like: "HP Cloud Commitment Remains Intact") within moments of the erroneous reports going viral.
Still, I don't believe in blaming the victim. In this case, numerous major IT media websites simply copied a headline from peer sites. And those peer sites didn't bother to truly read The Times coverage, nor did they seek comment from HP.
HP Cloud has had its challenges. Now, sloppy reporting by third-party websites has complicated those challenges.