Rick, give me a call and we can chat about it, eh?

>> Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Google spokesperson responded to Santorum by advising that users who want "content removed from the Internet should contact the webmaster of the page directly."

"Google’s search results are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the web. Users who want content removed from the Internet should contact the webmaster of the page directly," the spokesperson said. "Once the webmaster takes the page down from the web, it will be removed from Google’s search results through our usual crawling process."
-Alexander Burns, "Rick Santorum contacted
Google, says company spreads 'filth'"
Politico, September 20th, 2011.

Isn't this fun? Every time political has-been and third-tier GOP presidential aspirant Rick Santorum complains about the Googlebomb campaign that made his name synonymous online with a foul, frothy substance, we get yet another excuse to talk about it, adding yet another strand to the web.

What do you say? Dan Savage's campaign to come up with a dirty definition for "Santorum" was successful primarily because Rick Santorum was acting like a homophobic prick, something which is evidently still the case.

"I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it," Santorum said. "If you're a responsible business, you don't let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country."

Yeah, uhm, no. See, there's the crux of it, right there: the reason that nobody's putting forth a whole lot of effort to get Joe Biden's name redefined as some kind of anal intercourse aftermath, while Santorum's is getting reamed by having his name synonymized with post-coital anal seepage is that Joe Biden's basically a nice guy who says stupid but mostly-harmless things, while Rick Santorum's a guy with a history of opportunistically singling out a minority to score political points with a base of reactionary followers whose insecure and increasingly-obsolete prejudices have continued to turn individuals' personal lives into public injustices. Well, that and the fact that the people who dislike Joe Biden just that much lack the popularity, know-how and imagination to do very much with their adorable little stuck-in-the-'90s message boards; there is that.

If Santorum had been the least bit sympathetic, there's no way the spreading Santorum campaign would have gotten any mileage at all. This is part of what Santorum doesn't understand about the Internet, actually: that things move quickly here (the charitable version) and everybody has a really short attention span (the more critical version). We're all very easily distracted, what with our multi-tab browsers and proclivity for randomness and chaos. If Dan Savage's appeal for a foul synonym and Googlebombing hadn't struck a nerve, is what I'm saying, there would have been a collective "meh", or perhaps a flurry of interest followed by an abrupt turn towards pictures of kittens doing cute things captioned with lines from The Matrix or movie posters Photoshopped to include Samuel L. Jackson cameos or something, anything, I dunno.

And then, of course, we have the scab-picking angle on this. What I mean is, part of the reason spreading Santorum has the longevity it does is that Santorum keeps talking about it. I mean, I concede the thing has gotten such momentum that it's hard for him to ignore it, but if he gave it that proverbial good ol' college try instead of whining about how unfair it is that things he's said and done have had consequences for him, at the very least, it wouldn't be popping up in Politico and elsewhere on a semi-regular basis. Sure, asstards like me might periodically bring it up because we don't like Santorum or Santorum's supporters and we're kind of inclined to be dicks about it because we think Santorum's earned it, but who the hell are we, we obscure bloggers in our little online lairs grumping and snarking? Let's be honest and appropriately self-deprecating here: if Rick Santorum has the time to read my blog and get offended when I say mean things about him, he's unqualified to be President. Well. What I mean is, that's yet another reason he's unqualified to be President.

Which brings up one last thing that Alex Pareene aptly laughs at over at Salon:

But can I just ask what this means: "If you're a responsible business, you don't let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country." Google is hurting the country by not censoring Rick Santorum's search results? Does Rick Santorum really think he'd be a front-runner if Dan Savage hadn't made his name a funny sex joke?

I love that, too: Rick Santorum's "Google problem" is having an impact on the country, I had no idea. Everybody, slow down a minute! Forget about unemployment and marginal tax rates, this is important! Somebody is being mean to Rick Santorum on the Internet! This, ladies and gentlemen, is a crisis of unprecedented proportion, the greatest threat to face this country since cannon were aimed at the Union garrison at Fort Sumter! Yes, greater, even, than Pearl Harbor or September 11th, forget about the sinking of the Maine or the Lusitania! Cuban Missile "Crisis", hah! Don't you people understand, can't you see?! Are you fools so blind as that? Soylent Green is people! Peeeeeeeeople! People can't do a Google search for washed-out former Congressman Rick Santorum without seeing links to pages referring to a frothy mix of lube and fecal matter generated during anal sex! What if they click on the wrong link and make a campaign contribution to the bubbly buttsauce by mistake! This is the worst thing that has ever.


vince Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 2:41:00 PM EDT  

If I may make a correction here: what has happened to Santorum is not Googlebombing. If I may quote Google's Matt Cutts, who sums it up nicely:

“santorum” isn’t a Googlebomb, it’s straight SEO. Here’s the difference. With a Googlebomb, you’re causing someone else’s site to rank. With SEO, you’re promoting your own site. So spreadingsantorum.com is promoting themselves for “santorum,” which is SEO….

A Googlebomb is when you’re trying to cause *someone else’s* site to rank for phrases like “враг народа” or “talentless hack” or “mouton insignificant” or whatever.

Speading Santorum (the site that Santorum is complaining about, and which ranks above his campaign site) isn’t ranking just because there are links pointing at it that say “santorum” in it. It’s ranking because in addition tit is relevant to Santorum in terms of its content.

Sure, it’s not positive about him, but it’s relevant in the same way that if you search for Coke, you get the “Killer Coke” anti-Coca Cola web site. And if you check Bing, you'll see the same thing.

The only way to "fix" the problem is to remove the site (and any other site that might rank well for "santorum" from the Google (and Bing, and any other) index.

This is just another example of people, governments and organization, wanting to hold a search engine responsible for controlling or eliminating sites that are not in their best interest. The Internet is the big, bad, wild, wild west, and companies like Google, along with ISPs, web hosting companies and domain registrars are being pressured to allow themselves to be co-opted directly or indirectly by law enforcement organizations in the name of child protection, decency, fairness and/or protection of intellectual property.

This is all fine and good if you're attacking, say, child pornography. But when you're using it to suppress views that some people find objectionable, or political dissent, or to remove a website or block access to the Internet without anyone having been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime, that's another story.

The number of whackaloons that exist on the Internet is amazing, spouting hatred, lies, nonsense and lunacy. But these people have always existed, have always spread their propaganda by whatever the technological means exist. It's the price we pay for allowing the free exchange of ideas.

vince Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 2:43:00 PM EDT  

Also, forgive the misspellings even using Firefox.

vince Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 2:44:00 PM EDT  

And I had a comment I was referring to in my previous comment. Maybe Blogger ate it. Crap!

Eric Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 3:22:00 PM EDT  

It went to the spam folder, Vince, possibly because of that pesky Russian text, and now it's posted. Thanks for the clarification, and you're right: it's not a Googlebombing, it's that the alt-def of "santorum" now has more relevance* than other sites.

*I started to write, "more relevance as far as search engines are concerned", but honestly? It's simply more relevant in general at this point. Sorry, Rick, I know, truth's a bitch.

Random Michelle K Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 3:54:00 PM EDT  

Google "bill napoli"

You'll see that the Smart Bitches Trashy Books result is still number 1 for him, and that happened back in 2006.

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