Our relatively brief national nightmare of the new Transformers movie being three hours long is over. It’s a small but curious story, yielding little more than a detail in terms of intel on Michael Bay’s latest film, but more telling with regards to how information is generated and spread online today.

Transformers: The Last Knight would run at a grand total of 182 minutes. I first took note of this last night through the tweet embedded below, and then added a bit of my own

The breaking news seemed perfectly legitimate, confirmed by a quick Google search. (In fact, if you search “Transformers run time” right now, at time of publication, you’ll get the same thing.) Naturally, other users began to latch onto this chilling revelation, all responding with varying degrees of bafflement if not outright fear. Eventually, somehow, word got back to Michael Bay, who I imagine must have been surprised to learn his newest movie had magically become much longer since he touched it last. He issued a corrective tweet, explaining that this will actually be the 
shortest installment in a while:

First things first: Thank God.

But the ease with which this #fakenews was circulated still gives me pause. Information formally presented by Google — not even via a web site found through a search, but by the engine itself — ought to be trustworthy, and the source of this misinformation still hasn’t been identified. Google has become the single most popular channel through which your average American gets knowledge, and whether that’s how long the alien robots will fight or something slightly more important, it’s crucial that the information be held to a standard of verification.

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