(For example: eSarcasm claims to have unearthed a Facebook phone via circumstance not entirely unlike that of Engadget getting its hands on an early iPhone 4, only substitute a Palo Alto public restroom for a San Jose hofbrau. Given that the "face fone" bears more than a passing resemblence to a V-Tech Handy Manny toy cell phone, we suspect they're just having us on.)
5. Why the world needs a Facebook phone. These bloggers missed the whole "Facebook is building a phone" rush because it happened on a weekend while they were off having a life, so they're trying to make up for it with an analytical story that discusses the many reasons why a Facebook phone would make sense.
6. Why the world doesn't need a Facebook phone. These guys saw the last run of analytical pieces and wanted to jump in the water before it got too cold. It's a weak play, but at this point it's all they got.
7. Facebook issues denials. Facebook's PR department finally checks its Google alerts and sees storm clouds rising over the blogosphere, then issues a bland but comprehensive denial that it emails to major news outlets and gradually seeds across the Net, inciting another round of posts.
8. Facebook's denial is further proof that it is making a phone. Now we're back to TechCrunch again, defending its original story. If the author is Arrington (and it is), the response will include name calling and personal attacks on Facebook's PR team.
To be fair to TechCrunch, this cycle played itself out in much the same way around a "Google phone" last winter. And sure enough, the Nexus One appeared shortly thereafter -- though it didn't quite turn out to be the earth-shattering event those blogs predicted. It's possible that will happen here as well.
9. Facebook vs. the blogosphere. Here's the classic he said/she said spitting match between the blogs and the alleged phone maker, which is good for yet another round of posts. Because if Facebook were indeed making a phone, of course they would deny it. And if they weren't making a phone, they'd also deny it. So when your odds are 50/50, you might as well go with the juicier story. Right?
10. What should a Facebook phone look like? These bloggers get to ignore the whole question of whether this story is true and dive straight into fantasy, which is always fun because it requires much less research. You pretty much empty your brain into WordPress until you hit the magic 400-word minimum Google News requires and click "Publish." This is blogging at its finest.
And I guess I should add an 11th: Analysis of the whole rumor cycle, which so far includes this blog post.
We're now living in the golden age of meta journalism, with this post qualifying as meta-meta journalism. (Hey, I never meta journalist I didn't like. Ba-dum-bump. Thank you, thank you very much. Please tip your waitresses.) But remember, you read it here first. Unless you didn't.
If Facebook were building its own phone (not that I'm saying it is), would you buy one? Share your thoughts below or email me: email@example.com.
This article, "The Facebook phone, or how to kill journalism in 10 easy steps," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.