Saturday, January 31, 2009

Defusing Obama’s Google Bomb

The Google bomb is a virus initiated to attack President Bush in 2003. The virus utilized Google as a tool by arranging to have countless web sites link the words "miserable failure" to Bush's official biography on the White House Web site. So when someone typed the search term "miserable failure" into the Google search box, Bush's bio was pushed to the top of the search results.

It took Google four years to create an algorithm to detect what became known as "Google bombs" and re-directed the term "miserable failure" to non-political pages. I can’t help but picture Wonder Woman deflecting bullets with her magic bracelets. But why did it take Google four years? Could it be that it took that long to develop a proper algorithm? Perhaps Google just didn’t worry about how many people would search under those specific terms.

When President Obama came into office the "miserable failure" pest adapted and took aim at Obama’s bio page. Another Goggle bomb was hurled with the phrase cheerful achievement. However, this time the algorithms were moved into place within days. Is it fair to say that Google could have anticipated Obama’s Google bombs and that is why they moved so quickly this time? Google did say the reason it took only a few days to redirect Obama's Google bomb was that, this time, it already had the algorithm in place.

According to an article by CNET News, the Obama "cheerful achievement" Google bomb was created by Montreal blogger Eric Baillargeon, who did not return requests for comment.

It has been reported that a Yahoo! search of "miserable failure," however, returns the official White House biographies of Obama and Bush so it seems that Google is not the only search engine being manipulated.

I don’t know about you but I am glad I don’t have to worry about inventing some algorithms to combat bombs but fighting off viruses is an everyday battle when you spend most of waking moments on the internet. I am just thankful that there are services out there like Computer Service Now that can take care of those problems for me.

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