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Have We Just Been Google-Bombed? (Clueless Barf Alert)
Arab News ^ | 5/29/04 | Michael P. Saba

Posted on 06/01/2004 4:00:25 PM PDT by swilhelm73

WASHINGTON, 29 May 2004 — When one “googles” Saudi Arabia on the Internet, you find that there are currently almost 7 million references listed. When you enter “Saudi Arabia” and “terrorism” together on Google, the most popular Internet search engine, you discover about 800,000 references. “How Saudi Arabia Spreads Terrorism” is the first and most prominent entry. You may have just been “Google-bombed”.

In the current issue of the New Yorker magazine, James Surowiecki, introduces the concept of Google-bombing to his readers and explains how people are now manipulating Google for their own ends.

Suroweicki points out that if you type in “miserable failure” and click the “I’m feeling lucky” tab, you are not directed to an article about the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which hasn’t won a World Series in over 50 years or a failed movie, but, rather to the White House website and the official biography of President George W. Bush. You’ve been Google-bombed!

Google-bombing has now become more than a party game. Google is extremely efficient and makes decisions for you about the relative importance of the sources for the topic that you are searching.

How does Google work and how are the Google decisions made for us? According to Suroweicki, Google relies on the collective intelligence of the web itself. He points out that at the core of Google’s technology is a voting system. Every website link to another website is treated as a vote and sites that get more votes are considered more valuable. In the Google system, these votes, in turn, are weighted to have more influence. Other factors like font size and word location are also taken into consideration, but the web pages that Google rates the best, are the pages that the entire web thinks are the best.

Suroweicki notes that an entire new industry has developed around the business of maximizing Google rankings. He refers to this business as the racket of “search engine optimization.” Some American companies literally have armies of programmers working in developing world countries solely to boost their Google rankings. He states that much of the work that that the “optimizers” do is reasonable and helps the companies do a better job of building pages to which others will want to link. He calls this work “white hat tactics”.

However, he also refers to the dark side of this business. This he calls “black hat tactics” which use “index spammers” — who are adopting the methods and tricks of old political machines.

On the web, companies “cloak” or disguise the real content of their sites in attempting to trick Google into thinking that a page is relevant to a search. Some well-financed sources pay other sites to link to their sites to give an illusion of popularity. And some companies set up “link farms”— a series of interconnected websites, which exist mainly to link to each other. And the major companies can, according to Suroweicki, buy thousands of domain names, set up websites and effectively create thousands of links out of nothing.

Google doesn’t like to be tricked. It is about to launch its multibillion dollar IPO public stock offering and it could lose a lot of its credibility if Google-bombing continues to flourish.

The Google company recently submitted an IPO filing and it noted that the threat from index spammers was “ongoing and increasing”. Google has also launched a campaign to thwart this threat through various methods. But the tricksters will surely continue to try to outsmart Google with new methods and devices.

Now let’s get back to Saudi Arabia on the web and the use of Google to research the Kingdom.

Years ago, when research was beginning through electronic means, it was exceptional to find more than a few references weekly to Saudi Arabia and Saudis. Through electronic news information sources today such as Lexus-Nexus and news web sources such as AOL or Yahoo, one now often finds more than 1000 references a day to Saudi Arabia. And the overwhelming majority of those sources are negative, particularly the initial pages and initial sources referenced.

Google is now the source of choice for web users and researchers. Whether one is a casual user of the web or an in-depth researcher, we go to Google. And no one is going to look at all of the 7 million references to Saudi Arabia.

Has Saudi Arabia been Google-bombed? Even a cursory look at “Saudi Arabia” and topics related to Saudi Arabia on Google gives the web user answers to this question. On the other hand, one can also easily google the topic of “Israel.” Israel currently has almost 31 million sources listed on Google. The topic of “Israel” seems to be loaded initially with mostly positive references.

Google-bombing can be used many different ways both positively and negatively. Pro-Israeli organizations are known for their hard work and effective use of public relations. Do we have “black hat” tacticians influencing the Internet when it comes to the terms “Saudi Arabia” And do these tacticians put on their “white hat” when it comes to Israel? Further research needs to be done to determine this, but it is certainly a topic that needs further exploration.

Try a little of this research yourself. Oh, and while you’re at it; try entering the term “weapons of mass destruction” on Google and clicking “I’m feeling lucky”. Look carefully at the next page — Google-bombing at its best!


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 06/01/2004 4:00:26 PM PDT by swilhelm73
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To: swilhelm73

LOL


2 posted on 06/01/2004 4:02:37 PM PDT by OneTimeLurker
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To: swilhelm73

I think Google really needs to do something about Google-bombing, but the fact that "saudi arabia terrorism" brings up an article on Saudi Arabia and terrorism is kind of what's supposed to happen with a search engine.


3 posted on 06/01/2004 4:03:49 PM PDT by ScottFromSpokane (Re-elect President Bush: http://spokanegop.org/bush.html)
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To: swilhelm73
I just googled Saudi Arabia and I got the official Saudi information website. It had a photo of Mecca with I personally associate with terrorism. We've not been "google bombed" we've been actually bombed by Saudis. These moslems are always looking to play the victim.
4 posted on 06/01/2004 4:05:45 PM PDT by rageaholic
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To: swilhelm73
When you enter 'Saudi Arabia' and 'terrorism' together on Google, the most popular Internet search engine, you discover about 800,000 references. 'How Saudi Arabia Spreads Terrorism' is the first and most prominent entry. You may have just been 'Google-bombed'.

Maybe. And maybe you've just hit the genuine best match.

5 posted on 06/01/2004 4:06:01 PM PDT by prion
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To: swilhelm73

The article is a fraud. I just put "Saudi Arabia" into Google, and except for a brand-new article on MSNBC.com about yesterday's hostage situation (an article which will drop way down in the rankings within days as links to it from other news sites dry up), I had to go all the way down to result number 36 to find a listing that could be considered even slightly negative towards Saudi Arabia.


6 posted on 06/01/2004 4:09:47 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: swilhelm73

I find manipulating the Google search to be offensive, no matter who does it and for what purpose.


7 posted on 06/01/2004 4:11:22 PM PDT by Steve_Seattle
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To: OneTimeLurker
“How Saudi Arabia Spreads Terrorism” is the first and most prominent entry.

Funny, that's not the first result I got.

8 posted on 06/01/2004 4:12:58 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: Steve_Seattle
I find manipulating the Google search to be offensive, no matter who does it and for what purpose.

Google is on record as saying they only allow Google-bombing for results that are of no actual relevance to life. For example, nobody would ever seriously need to use Google to find real results on the topic of "miserable failure," so they let it stand. But whenever some group of people tries to start screwing around with the results of a legitimate search topic, Google's staff will go in and manually tell the software to ignore the attempts.

9 posted on 06/01/2004 4:19:22 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: ScottFromSpokane
try using <> seems like a better search engine
10 posted on 06/01/2004 4:19:26 PM PDT by pointsal
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To: swilhelm73
That's old news.

Manipulating Google is a major sport in some wacko circles. Type in "Weapons of mass destruction" and hit the "I feel lucky" button. This BS has been there for ages.
11 posted on 06/01/2004 4:19:45 PM PDT by drtom
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To: Steve_Seattle
I find manipulating the Google search to be offensive

I don't believe the Google results for "Saudi Arabia" + "terrorism" have been deliberately manipulated. It's like Googling "Roswell" + "aliens"

If this Saudi-buttboy is so upset that infidels persist in associating the Magic Kingdom with homicidal maniacs who fly airliners into skyscrapers then maybe he should just Google "Saudi Arabia" and then only "nice" royally-approved sites will be listed (in the top 10, at least)

12 posted on 06/01/2004 4:28:13 PM PDT by Alouette (Dear Dad & Uncle Ira & all USA vets--Thank you for my Freedom.)
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To: swilhelm73
No mention of waffles... Nope, no bias here!
13 posted on 06/01/2004 4:32:51 PM PDT by Redcloak (optional, printed after your name on post)
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To: swilhelm73

That's funny! I just typed in "Chicken Pot Pie" and "Oven" in google and gosh darnit, I got a recipe for CHICKEN POT PIE!!!

It's a conspiracy I tell ya!!!


14 posted on 06/01/2004 4:55:47 PM PDT by sandbar
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To: prion

15 posted on 06/01/2004 5:02:11 PM PDT by Helms (Al Gore Has No Core -A Lost Soul In a Political Fishbowl)
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To: Steve_Seattle

"I find manipulating the Google search to be offensive, no matter who does it and for what purpose."

I just find it really, really BORING!! Only a dimwitted newbie would find this crap amusing.


16 posted on 06/01/2004 5:05:10 PM PDT by Maine For Bush
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To: Dont Mention the War
whenever some group of people tries to start screwing around with the results of a legitimate search topic, Google's staff will go in and manually tell the software to ignore the attempts.

When I look up "Jew Watch" I expect to find a site where I can buy a timepiece with a Hebrew dial and not some nazi forum.

17 posted on 06/01/2004 5:31:29 PM PDT by Alouette (Dear Dad & Uncle Ira & all USA vets--Thank you for my Freedom.)
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To: Dont Mention the War

I didn't try it. I just think it's funny that they thought they were google bombed!


18 posted on 06/01/2004 5:53:58 PM PDT by OneTimeLurker
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To: swilhelm73
I stopped using Google a few months ago because of this issue. Either you get "google-bombed" or you get several thousand hit for secondary search engines.

Yahoo seems to have kept more in check than Google.
19 posted on 06/01/2004 5:57:46 PM PDT by devane617
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To: swilhelm73

BTTT


20 posted on 06/01/2004 6:00:56 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: swilhelm73
hemorrhoids

pass it on!

21 posted on 06/01/2004 6:00:59 PM PDT by thoughtomator (Any "church" that can't figure out abortion and homosexuality isn't worthy of the appellation)
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To: prion

No maybe about it. Saudi Arabia has to be the biggest financial backer of terrorism around. The real issue is whether this writer is a liar or an idiot. My bet is that not even google could find this "reporter's" brain.


22 posted on 06/01/2004 6:19:26 PM PDT by pragmatic_asian
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To: sandbar
I just typed in "Chicken Pot Pie" and "Oven" in google and gosh darnit, I got a recipe for CHICKEN POT PIE!!!

Aha, but was the recipe any GOOD? (and will you share if it is?) ;-)
23 posted on 06/01/2004 8:01:23 PM PDT by KangarooJacqui ("by George, I think she's got it!")
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To: pragmatic_asian
No maybe about it. Saudi Arabia has to be the biggest financial backer of terrorism around. The real issue is whether this writer is a liar or an idiot. My bet is that not even google could find this "reporter's" brain.

True, but look at the source. "Arab News", people... I haven't checked, but the name alone implies that they'd be about as impartial on this issue as the New York Slimes on a bad day.
24 posted on 06/01/2004 8:04:29 PM PDT by KangarooJacqui ("by George, I think she's got it!")
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To: swilhelm73
miserable failure can also direct users to Michael Moore's site or even a profile of the miserable failure that was Jimmy Carter's presidency.
25 posted on 06/01/2004 11:41:39 PM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS. CNN ignored torture & murder in Saddam's Iraq to keep their Baghdad Bureau.)
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To: Dont Mention the War
Google is on record as saying they only allow Google-bombing for results that are of no actual relevance to life. For example, nobody would ever seriously need to use Google to find real results on the topic of "miserable failure," so they let it stand. But whenever some group of people tries to start screwing around with the results of a legitimate search topic, Google's staff will go in and manually tell the software to ignore the attempts.

So the successful google bombing of President Bush will stand while they may intervene in the attempted google bombing of the Kerry campaign with the word "waffles"? It finally works but I could easily see them removing it.

Then again the moderators at news.google.com seriously believe that Democratic Underground is a "news" site and not a place where racist, seditious ranting occurs. They have told me that true hate literature will not be tolerated. I've given them examples in the past but I always hear that it is "just a difference of opinion". Yeah.

26 posted on 06/01/2004 11:46:51 PM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS. CNN ignored torture & murder in Saddam's Iraq to keep their Baghdad Bureau.)
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To: Alouette
When I look up "Jew Watch" I expect to find a site where I can buy a timepiece with a Hebrew dial and not some nazi forum.

"Jew Watch" may be a reprehensible site, but it does exist, thus Google has to link to it, or the free speech advocates would be all over them. (Google claims to ban no links to anything on the web, except for sites that are nothing more than specific attempts to artificially mess with Google results.)

A better comparison would be if there was no such site as "Jew Watch," and a bunch of antisemites started a Googlebombing campaign to make the term "jew watch" link to another Nazi site. Likewise, there is no "Miserablefailure.com." (Someone's registered the name, but it's just a link to a placeholder.) If there was such a site, Google would intervene to insure it was the top link no matter how many people tried to Googlebomb a Bush bio into the top slot.

In fact, Google has issued a statement about the results you get for "Jew Watch" and the like. It should be posted here, I think.

Google

An explanation of our search results.

If you recently used Google to search for the word "Jew," you may have seen results that were very disturbing. We assure you that the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google. We'd like to explain why you're seeing these results when you conduct this search.

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. Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted. A search for "Jew" brings up one such unexpected result.

If you use Google to search for "Judaism," "Jewish" or "Jewish people," the results are informative and relevant. So why is a search for "Jew" different? One reason is that the word "Jew" is often used in an anti-Semitic context. Jewish organizations are more likely to use the word "Jewish" when talking about members of their faith. The word has become somewhat charged linguistically, as noted on websites devoted to Jewish topics such as these:

Someone searching for information on Jewish people would be more likely to enter terms like "Judaism," "Jewish people," or "Jews" than the single word "Jew." In fact, prior to this incident, the word "Jew" only appeared about once in every 10 million search queries. Now it's likely that the great majority of searches on Google for "Jew" are by people who have heard about this issue and want to see the results for themselves.

Our search results are generated completely objectively and are independent of the beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google. Some people concerned about this issue have created online petitions to encourage us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Because of our objective and automated ranking system, Google cannot be influenced by these petitions. The only sites we omit are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results.

We apologize for the upsetting nature of the experience you had using Google and appreciate your taking the time to inform us about it.

Sincerely,
The Google Team

p.s. You may be interested in some additional information the Anti-Defamation League has posted about this issue at http://www.adl.org/rumors/google_search_rumors.asp. In addition, we call your attention to both the Jewish Internet Association, an organization that addresses online anti-semitism, at http://www.jewishinternetassociation.org/, and Google's search results on this topic.

27 posted on 06/01/2004 11:47:28 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: weegee
So the successful google bombing of President Bush will stand while they may intervene in the attempted google bombing of the Kerry campaign with the word "waffles"? It finally works but I could easily see them removing it.

Unless they do remove it, I'm not sure what your point is here. The Kerry For President site is the #1 result for "waffles" right now. If it were to be removed, it might be because the legitimate owner of waffles.com complains. But on the other hand, the "legitimate" site is only the third-most-popular "waffles" site anyway, so they'd probably have less of a case.

Then again the moderators at news.google.com seriously believe that Democratic Underground is a "news" site and not a place where racist, seditious ranting occurs. They have told me that true hate literature will not be tolerated. I've given them examples in the past but I always hear that it is "just a difference of opinion". Yeah.

They don't link to DU threads, just DU articles. FR doesn't have an articles section. I don't know why they don't link to FRN articles, but they certainly cover a whole host of conservative opinion sites.

28 posted on 06/01/2004 11:58:21 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War
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To: Dont Mention the War
The point was about "waffles" being a name for a product (even if there were no "waffles.com", people still buy/sell/look for recipes for waffles. A link to the Kerry Campaign website is a false lead even if the word fits). If Google is going to let some google bombs stand and possibly remove others, it is a practice that should actively be discouraged in ALL cases.

I've pointed out vile hate in DU's "opinions" section (that was where I first noticed news.google.com cited DU as "news"). Some of the other examples I later offered to them were from the forums. The location of the comments didn't seem to matter too much to the moderator and they did seem somewhat concerned by some of the comments (like a death threat made against American troops) but DU pulled that thread after it made the wire services.

I tell them what DU represents but they choose to pull the wool over their eyes.

I do not write any opinion pieces for FR but I read some of the opinion pieces on FR. Reportedly some on FR have unsuccessfully tried to get their work included in "news.google.com".

29 posted on 06/02/2004 12:40:47 AM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS. CNN ignored torture & murder in Saddam's Iraq to keep their Baghdad Bureau.)
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To: swilhelm73

Type "france military victories" into the engine and press the "I'm feeling lucky" button. Just try it.


30 posted on 06/02/2004 12:44:09 AM PDT by baseballfanjm
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To: Dont Mention the War
For the record, I received this when I contacted the Google News administrators:

Thank you for your reply. Google News does have some editorial guidelines whereby we would remove a news source from our service for utilizing extreme hate speech. Please feel free to send us examples of articles that you find in Google News that you think may qualify, and we will review them.

Feel free to contact them if you see anything (not just DU) that seems out of line in that context.

31 posted on 06/02/2004 1:01:15 AM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS. CNN ignored torture & murder in Saddam's Iraq to keep their Baghdad Bureau.)
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