When it comes to layoffs, ignore liars and fools

On December 30, Lars-Goran Nilsson published this on Fudzilla:

The rumor that Microsoft was set to lay off people on January 15th, 2009 is no longer a rumor but a fact. Staff at Microsoft have been informed that the company is readying major layoffs to its worldwide operations and it’s not a small cut, either.

Currently Microsoft employs about 90,000 people across the world and from what we’re hearing, some 15,000 of those are expected to be giving marching orders come January 15th. That’s almost 17 percent of Microsoft’s total work force, not exactly a small number.

The tech press fell all over itself amplifying this unsourced, literally incredible report. (I hate to use that word, because this wasn’t really reporting but appears to be flat-out lying.) Anyway, here’s what the train wreck looked like on TechMeme, the official echo chamber of the Apocalypse:


January 15 came and went with no announcement. Today, January 22, Microsoft did indeed announce layoffs:

In light of the further deterioration of global economic conditions, Microsoft announced additional steps to manage costs, including the reduction of headcount-related expenses, vendors and contingent staff, facilities, capital expenditures and marketing. As part of this plan, Microsoft will eliminate up to 5,000 jobs in R&D, marketing, sales, finance, legal, HR, and IT over the next 18 months, including 1,400 jobs today.

No doubt about it, that’s bad news, especially if you’re one of the 1,400 people losing your job at Microsoft today. But that is less than 1/10 of the number that Fudzilla published as “no longer a rumor but a fact” and that was amplified by a bunch of high-traffic websites that should know better.

Dear tech press: Can you please remove Fudzilla from your RSS readers and stop giving them any credence? There really should be consequences for getting something so tragically wrong. Rumors are not news, and calling something a fact doesn’t make it so.

4 thoughts on “When it comes to layoffs, ignore liars and fools

    1. Joe, you’re right that Mini was first to report that rumor. But he reported it clearly as a rumor that he was hearing from within Microsoft, and didn’t try to spin it as facts or attach numbers to it. What I object to is the bald-faced lie (no other word for it) in the Fudzilla posting. That number got picked up and republished by a lot of people who should frankly be ashamed today.

  1. Wasn’t aware of the fudzilla post, I agree with you it’s an out and out lie, plain and simple. These were never facts, just mere rumors. But I guess some people value sensationalism more than reality.

  2. Thanks for taking that short trip back in the time machine, to kindly complete the feedback cycle for that original writer….

    I’m not sure there’s any central “tech press” per se who can cloak such bad writing, but there’s one thing we readers can do: Insist that people back up their assertions with verifiable source evidence. Those “anonymous sources say” stories have got to go!

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