The silliest Steve Jobs rumor yet

This is not a story about Steve Jobs or Apple (aapl).

It's not even a story about a Steve Jobs rumor.

It's a story about a nasty piece of work called Palluxo Media, based in Vancouver, B.C., that just stooped to a new low.

As an online news outlet, Palluxo.com is all over the lot. Its current crop of stories includes pieces about Jewish and Bosnian genocides, Cuban spies, an Acapulco drug shootout and a David Carradine forensic photo.

But it also bills itself as Canada's "Mac Dose of All Things Apple," and that's how it caught my attention last February, offering dubious investment advice ("it’s highly likely that the stock’s best days are over") just before Apple began a 40-plus point march from $99 a share to more than $140.

"You fell for Palluxo?," wrote "cynyc" -- one of my regular readers -- when I cited that quote as an attempt to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about Apple. "That site only exists to promote the agenda of Apple shorts [speculators betting that the stock will go down]."

I thought my reader was being overly cynical, but the recent history of Palluxo's Steve Jobs coverage suggests he may be onto something.

Consider this sequence of Palluxo headines:

  • December 31, 2008: “CEO Steve Jobs on Deathbed, Prognosis Poor”
  • May 23, 2009: "Apple Rumor: Steve Jobs Could Die Any Day"

and Thursday's prizewinner:

  • June 11, 2009: "Apple Rumor: Steve Jobs Seen Kissing Unidentified Man"

Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say.

But this last piece -- which ran under the byline "Daisy Jefferson" -- contradicts the earlier ones (Jobs is described as looking "frail, but otherwise energized and in good spirits") and its prose is so purple ("handsome sportsman" ... "swapping spit") that it reads like something out of
The Onion
.

It claims to be based on a tip from an unidentified source who says he witnessed the event through binoculars, yet demands $75,000 for evidence captured on a security camera.

You almost want to give Palluxo the benefit of the doubt and assume that the story is a prank, planted on their site to embarrass them.

But how would you know? Except for the physical address of the "head office" (1755 Robson Street, Suite #3334, Vancouver B.C. V6G 3B7), the site gives you no way to reach its editors for comment or verification.

Even the contact listed on their Web domain registration -- management@palloxo.com -- turns out to be a dead end, as This Young Economist's Tony Cookson discovered last month when tried to complain about a story of his that Palluxo copied and ran without permission. (Its subject, according to Cookson: why he "detests Apple products.")

Do we detect a theme here?

According to "cynyc," my New York City-based reader, Palluxo is "a clever but thinly disguised marketing tool for the shorts. They don’t shy away from misreporting facts and they spread rumors with abandon. It is no coincidence that they’re published in Canada, it is to avoid scrutiny from the SEC."

Perhaps it's time for British Columbia's security commission to take a look.

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