Google should sue Chris Bowers

posted at 4:08 pm on October 26, 2006 by Bryan

Google is equal parts search engine and advertising/marketing company. Its search algorithms are supposedly the best around, able to lead web surfers to whatever information or product they happen to be looking for at any given moment. The reliability of Google’s core product — its search results — are the key to maintaining the relationship it has with users. If the search results are no longer reliable, Google will lose traffic. And therefore ad revenue, since its search results are also the key to the success of its AdSense programs, which many web sites including this one use to generate revenue.

Enter Chris Bowers of MyDD.

As I led the world (thanks to a tip from a reader) and reported way back on Sunday, October 22, Bowers is engineering a devious political gambit that aims to use Google to send undecided voters toward negative information on Republican candidates. Undecided Voter X wants to know about Bob Corker and Harold Ford, GOP and Dem candidates for the Senate from Tennessee respectively, and so Voter X Googles the two men. If Bowers’ scheme works, Voter X won’t get unbiased results. She’ll get negative articles about Corker, which might tip her to vote for Ford. And Google’s product will have been rendered defective.

The NYT, in catching up to Hot Air and reporting on Bower’s netcraft, says that Google isn’t happy about the scheme:

“We don’t condone the practice of Google bombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results,” said Ricardo Reyes, a Google spokesman. “A site’s ranking in Google’s search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query.”

The company’s faith in its system has produced a hands-off policy when it comes to correcting for the effects of Google bombs in the past. Over all, Google says, the integrity of the search product remains intact.

Writing in the company’s blog last year, Marissa Mayer, Google’s director of consumer Web products, suggested that pranks might be “distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.”

Of course Google doesn’t condone Google bombing. That’s tampering with the reliability of Google’s product, and as much as Google might want liberals and Democrats to defeat Republicans, it wants even more than that to keep on making money by producing reliable search results that lead surfers to Google ads to click on.

So, from Google’s point of view, it’s best to downplay even the possibility that Bowers’ Google bombing will even work.

But if it does work…If Bowers and his search-challenged minions actually can manipulate the search results in time for the election? That’s a strike at the heart of Google’s core product itself.

So Google should sue Bowers for tampering with its core product. Because that is exactly what he’s doing.


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A few days ago, right after reading your post, I contacted the Security Department at Google, providing to them links and information. They emailed me back saying that all of the information had been sent to the proper department, and that it would be handled. What that means, I don’t know.

americanpundit on October 26, 2006 at 4:16 PM

From the NYT article:

An accompanying part of the project is intended to buy up Google Adwords, so that searches for the candidates’ names will bring up advertisements that point to the articles as well. But Mr. Bowers said his hopes for this were fading, because he was very busy.

More like Mr. Bowers didn’t have the funds to follow through with his fascinatingly evil plan.

Valiant on October 26, 2006 at 4:21 PM

I just thought I would say this, knowing how the search engines work, having worked in SEO, etc. Trying to do what Bowers wants to do is almost impossible given the short amount of time. Even though some of their sites have decent rankings, and backlinks, the undertaking to make this work in this short amount of time is laughable.

They would have to target a lot of keywords, that are already established, and anyone in the game knows that to get up there, even in the shortest time, would take at least 2-3 weeks. More like 2-3 months. Besides, Google has dealt with this stuff before. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sites banned/excluded from the search results if they carry it out.

That being said, if they have enough money, they could do it in a week, but if they can’t Air America afloat, I highly doubt this will prove any different.

tnculp on October 26, 2006 at 4:22 PM

Conservatives need to start playing this game, really. As they say, don’t hate the player hate the game. Play google – it isn’t hard. Bush doesn’t rank #1 for “failure” by google’s choice. The google users made it #1. Take that lesson and apply it towards a more constructive end. Complaining is useless.

lorien1973 on October 26, 2006 at 4:28 PM

A significant part of my business generating leads for my website clients involves building pages that Google and other search engines like and will rank highly. I agree with “tnculp”…affecting Googles results in a short time period is basically impossible without utilizing a VERY large budget with their Adwords.

statsman on October 26, 2006 at 4:32 PM

So what words would be an appropriate Google search for Chris Bowers and MyDD.com?

AndrewsDad on October 26, 2006 at 4:38 PM

Give me a freaking break. Any voter who bases their decision solely on the #1 search result of a single freaking google search (which in this case might lead them to anti-Republican information) is of no use to the Republican party.

The Democrats can have these morons. All of them.

Niko on October 26, 2006 at 4:48 PM

Congratulations on getting a “HotAir.com” mention in the NYTimes!!

jdpaz on October 26, 2006 at 4:49 PM

MyDD.com cannot be happy with this story getting out in the mainstream media as it serves to infuriate republicans, and damage the credibility of Google, liberals, and MyDD.

Liberals are So Good at shooting themselves in the foot. Sweet!

DannoJyd on October 26, 2006 at 4:56 PM

Just use http://www.ask.com instead. I hate Google for itspolitical leanings anyway. And the binoculars at ask.com are cool.

NTWR on October 26, 2006 at 5:07 PM

Google is to busy censoring YouTube to go after these guys.

Limerick on October 26, 2006 at 5:13 PM

I agree with “tnculp”…affecting Googles results in a short time period is basically impossible without utilizing a VERY large budget with their Adwords.

I totally disagree. Given a budget of less than $2000, you could rank an established website for a known term in about 2 weeks. No problem. Website has to have a decent age and decent PR and some other factors. But its totally doable.

lorien1973 on October 26, 2006 at 5:15 PM

“distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.”

BUT, listen to the dance. In actuality, it wont affect the ‘overall quality’ of their search service. Its like one barrel of oil in the ocean, it wont change the ocean. But if you’re a duck and the oil hits you, you’re dead. Same with this, googlebombing can and will work, in a small targeted area (so to speak). Google doesnt care, because it will never alter or change their OVERALL results.
It’s the RNC that should get a cease and desist order against Bowers.

shooter on October 26, 2006 at 5:20 PM

On what grounds would Google sue anyone for “Google bombing”? Google wrote the PageRank algorithm, and has refused to correct for this sort of thing. Bowers, annoying and immature as he may be, is not liable at all.

If this hurts Google, it’s GOOGLE’s fault, and noone else’s.

DaveS on October 26, 2006 at 5:24 PM

And the RNC certainly has no standing to sue.

DaveS on October 26, 2006 at 5:25 PM

I agree with DaveS. Google’s algo has a HUGE hole in it; that they refuse to (or cannot) fix. Not sure which. If people can google bomb, it’s google’s fault. Play the game.

lorien1973 on October 26, 2006 at 5:31 PM

I think some are giving GOOGLE too much credit for being a ‘do the right thing’ company. They bend over for China, their obvious left leanings, Billions of newfound dollars etc, I just dont know how much I would trust them. Thats just me. But this is an election with both houses at stake. Crazier things have happened.

shooter on October 26, 2006 at 5:38 PM

We could Evil Google Current bomb by sending in tons of conservative “Pods” and then voting for them. We could make Gore’s little brainchild the most conservative channel on TV! Bwahahahah!

And, suing Chris Bowers? Don’t be evil.

NTWR on October 26, 2006 at 5:43 PM

MyDD.com cannot be happy with this story getting out in the mainstream media as it serves to infuriate republicans, and damage the credibility of Google, liberals, and MyDD.

Liberals are So Good at shooting themselves in the foot. Sweet!

DannoJyd on October 26, 2006 at 4:56 PM

Once it’s on HOT AiR, Drudge and the NYT, it’s over. The conservatives are not as dumb as they’re perceived to be, especially not the ones surfing the net (I mean Mr. Gore’s invention). Just don’t tell the libs that until the night of Nov. 7, 2006.

Smart liberals and independents would never vote for such cheap trash and absence of solid issues to proudly run on.

Entelechy on October 26, 2006 at 5:57 PM

lorien1973, I agree with you, that it’s doable, just not on the scale they are talking about, in this short of time.

tnculp on October 26, 2006 at 6:25 PM

Google should sue? Have we really come to advocating lawsuits? Sure, it’s part Using the Weapons of My Enemy Against Him, but it’s also part Being No Better Than My Enemy. I’m torn.

Actually, between Google and MyDD, I root for injuries.

Enrique on October 26, 2006 at 6:59 PM

What that means, I don’t know.

It means that it lands on the desk of some guy sitting neck-deep in ropes of conduit, typing on a dusty Smith Corona, humming ‘Brazil’ and doesn’t get noticed for ten years.

ahem on October 26, 2006 at 7:54 PM

Google won’t do anything because they are all liberals. Heck, Google staff will probably help them accomplish it.

NRA4Freedom on October 26, 2006 at 7:58 PM

Trade you Google for Diebold. Deal?

Constantine on October 26, 2006 at 9:11 PM

Use any search engine other than google. I like clusty.com. It breaks down the search results by topic in the left hand side bar.

This is the result of a search for Hot Air showing the search results under ‘blog’:

http://clusty.com/search?v%3afile=viv_588%4019%3aUNCNqb&v%3aframe=list&v%3astate=root%7cN341&id=N341&action=list&#

maxman on October 26, 2006 at 9:37 PM

Hi Entelechy.

I had hopes that this story would make it to the MSM, and it looks as if my prayers have been answered. Republicans are on the offence once again, and libs will be working overtime to do damage control. The result will be that democrats will feel despair as their once reported leads begin to shrink away into little puffs of smoke.

Michigan has its own problems right now, but we are fighting the good fight. Tomorrow I get to see DeVos speak at a public gathering. I’ll be the big ape handing out DeVos lawn signs.

DannoJyd on October 26, 2006 at 9:44 PM

Yes, many are saying it CAN be done… but no one is saying HOW to do it! I sure would like to know!

erix138 on October 26, 2006 at 10:07 PM

Dogpile.com is awesome too. It searches all of them.

DaveS on October 26, 2006 at 10:48 PM

Erix138, click here.

DannoJyd on October 26, 2006 at 10:51 PM

Everyone at Hotair should write like Bryan. That was one of the most thorough pieces I’ve read here lately.

Sometimes Hotair writers sound like Sports Writers… confusing to no end.

But overall, great work by all.

And yeah, don’t mess with the Algorithum…

ar_basin on October 26, 2006 at 11:07 PM

An exceedingly accurate and succint assessment of the whole googlebomb issue, Bryan. This is exactly what I have been sputtering about for months, and I suppose that if I’d been able to describe it as accurately and succintly as you just did, I’d be getting the big blog bucks instead of the tiny teacher treasures I actually do get.

I expect that if a conservative was threatening to do what Bowers is doing, and if indeed such an attempt was as successful as googlebombing has been so far for those lefward-leaning folks dabbling in it, google would very quickly find that that their search algorithms needed tweaking.

Bob's Kid on October 26, 2006 at 11:53 PM

Bob’s Kid, a republican group is indeed doing that as reported at Michellemalkin.com which has the relevant link to Rightwingnews.

DannoJyd on October 27, 2006 at 1:16 AM

I did read about that, Danno…and we’ll see if it has legs. If it does, I am wondering if google will have a somewhat different attitude about that than they seem to when the left does it.

Time will tell.

Bob's Kid on October 27, 2006 at 2:06 AM

I’ve got rankings for my professional web site on page 1 of just about every search engine EXCEPT Dogpile.com. GRRRRRR!

No lie. I’m usually on the 1st page of google, in the top 6 rankings on ask, number 1 on Altavista, 9 on Lycos, and currently 4 on clusty.

But, on dogpile, I’m FRACKING NUMBER 49!

So. Naturally. I won’t be recommending dogpile to any of my customers. ;^)

georgej on October 27, 2006 at 6:07 AM

I think this googlebombing issue is DOA.

1. I don’t think the usual web searcher is going to fall for the bogus hits. People are not as dumb as liberals think they are.

2. I’m not sure that reading a “hit piece” is going to change any minds. Bowers and his idiot pals have this belief that just because you read it on the internet, that it’s all true — especially when the article is deliberately negative.

3. Voters are going to be much more influenced by the daily junk snail mail and postcards from candidates themselves, if even then.

I think we’re getting our panties in a knot for nothing.

And YES, I know how search engine rankings work, and I’m pretty successful at getting my pages high on the search results list.. See my above post to see just how well I’ve doing.

georgej on October 27, 2006 at 6:23 AM

I think you’re right, Georgej, but I’m still counterbombing anyway (per the link at Right Wing News that Danno mentioned). I’ve got the list in my sidebar to keep it on the front page. ;-)

bamapachyderm on October 27, 2006 at 7:55 AM