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.