I wonder if it's even technically illegal. Clearly employing a botnet COULD be considered illegal. The action of shorting the stock as it falls due to actions you took, however, now that's gray area. One the one hand, you've artificially manipulated the market to your benefit, but on the other hand, if you just up and bought a boatload of stock, you'd push the price up that way, manipulating the market that way as well.
The question becomes "at what point is manipulation of the market illegal?" Particularly when the manipulation actually occurs OUTSIDE the market, on a media website?? IANAL, but it sure seems to me like if I borrowed stock, sold it at $12 a share, pushed the big-red-botnet-button (causing the stock to plummet), bought back the shares at $3 each, and returned the stock to the lender, pocketing the difference -- it sure looks like the only offense would potentially be the use of the botnet. But a) botnet usage is not necessarily illegal, and b) a botnet wouldn't necessarily be needed to game the system to get the article to float, causing the stock to tumble. So on the surface of it, it looks like this could be done completely legally, which is an interesting thought.
mine's the one with the laptop controlling a botnet and running trading software at the same time...