At midday on Tuesday, the story went live on a website designed to mimic venerable news agency Bloomberg. The report, citing unnamed sources, said Twitter had received a takeover offer of $31 billion US.
"In the past, Google has been named most likely to buy the micro-blogging site, but the people said there was also strong interest from an unnamed foreign buyer," the report read.
Based on Monday's closing prices, Twitter is worth about $25 billion US.
The report came weeks after one of Twitter's earliest investors, Chris Sacca, said Twitter would be an "instant fit" for Google if it were to acquire the microblogging site.
Twitter is indeed a frequent subject of takeover rumours, and the report was enough to send the shares up eight per cent on the NYSE on Tuesday, peaking at around $38.50 US. It was the most-traded share on the NYSE on Tuesday.
That euphoria was short-lived, however, as within 20 minutes of the article's publish time of 11:36 a.m. ET, Twitter shares were back at their previous level below $37.
The Bloomberg.markets website carrying the false report was registered on July 10, according to a domain search on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
The domain was registered in Panama to WhoIsGuard, a company that offers customers the ability to maintain anonymity when registering a website.