Google bomb

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A Google bomb is a manipulation of the Google search engine operated by the US company Google Inc. Due to the internal function of this search engine, it is possible to associate a certain website with defamatory keywords.

Technical background

The search engine Google rates pages not only according to their own content, but also according to the link text with which other pages refer to this page. The search result therefore not only contains pages that contain the text you are looking for, but also pages that are referred to by the appropriately named links. This technique usually gives reliable results. However, the process also makes Google vulnerable to manipulation. If many pages refer to the White House website with a link with the text "Failure" , then a Google search for the word "Failure" will find the White House, even though the word is on whose website does not appear at all.

Development history

Known Google bombs

The first Google bomb came in 1999 when the search term “more evil than satan himself” was referred to the Microsoft website .

Popular were the Google bombs in 2003, when opponents of US President George W. Bush to collusion and on their websites and weblogs put links on an official biographical text about Bush, every time connected with the words miserable failure (dt. Miserable failure or pathetic failure ). A little later, Google search listed Bush's site as a top hit for these same search terms. At the end of January 2007, Google defused this Google bomb by changing the search algorithm.

Since then, Google bombs have been used frequently, including by sympathizers of the then American President Bush, who in return tried to associate political opponents such as Jimmy Carter , Michael Moore and Hillary Clinton with the phrase miserable failure .

Almost a year after the algorithm change, a new bomb appeared. Dangerous cult (German: dangerous sect) was Scientology's first result.

The Google bomb became known in Austria when a search for the term complete incompetence led to the heavily controversial private website of the then Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser . In 2010 the Austrian politician Heinz-Christian Strache , party chairman of the right-wing populist FPÖ , fell victim to a Google bomb: “Vollkoffer” (which means “complete idiot”) led to his personal homepage. The best-known example in Switzerland is the search for pathetic washcloths , which led to the Federal Council's website of the well-known right-wing populist Christoph Blocher .

In 2005, a Google bomb was pushed to Angela Merkel in a German online forum simply through user signatures with the text Experiment Kohlkopf and a link to .

On October 27, 2008, a trial began in Poland against the programmer Marek M., who in 2007 searched Google for the obscene word kutas (Polish for “tail”) and displayed President Lech Kaczyński's homepage . M. threatened up to three years in prison, but ultimately the 24-year-old got away with a suspended sentence.

In January 2009, a search for the terms failure and cheerful achievement briefly showed the biography of the new US President Barack Obama as the first hit. However, this Google bomb was discovered and defused by Google using a special algorithm.

In July 2009 a search for Traitors Party resulted in the SPD's homepage. Also in July 2009, the search term Black Plague resulted in the CDU / CSU homepage.

A Google bomb from 2009 resembled the miserable failure that had been known since 2003 . A search for worst failure ever (German: greatest failure (or failure) of all time ) listed a biographical page of the White House about President Barack Obama as the first result .

Due to homophobic remarks by the Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum , activists used a Google bomb to search for his name. The first hit was referred to a blog under the title spreadingsantorum, which informs readers about Santorum's anti-gay statements.

In July 2018, through targeted manipulation, images of Donald Trump were shown as a result of the Google image search for the word idiot .

Reactions from google

Google has defended its method: The search results are a correct representation of the content on the Internet. Overall, Google bombing does not destroy the quality of the service. Google expects these phenomena to be forgotten again and to be just one of the many short-lived trends on the Internet.

In October 2004, when asked what is being done against the “Google bombing”, Google fellow Urs Hölzle answered the newspaper SonntagsBlick as follows: “Nothing. It's a sign of how democratic the internet is. If enough people link their websites accordingly, it can come out like this. "

On September 16, 2005, Marissa Mayer , head of department at Google at the time, apologized in the Google blog to everyone who felt attacked by the connection from the White House website with the search term “failure”: “We do not approve of Google bombing or other practices aiming to manipulate our search results. But we are also reluctant to manually manipulate our search results to prevent those results from being displayed. Pranks like this one may be confusing to some people, but by and large they don't affect the quality of our tracing service, whose objectivity, as always, is our primary goal. "

Google employee Matt Cutts wrote in an official Google blog in early 2007 that Google had been working on an algorithmic solution to the problem of the Google bombs and has since defused it, if not completely solved it.

In January 2007, Heise reported online that the search results would be less susceptible to Google bombing thanks to a newly introduced filter algorithm. According to the latest adjustments, the manipulated hit lists should only relate to comments and contributions to the discussion on the respective attempted deception. Samples show that the most famous Google bombs have already been defused.

Google bowling

Since search engines try to punish attempts at manipulation, some companies take advantage of this to deliberately damage competitors in their ranking. This practice is known as Google Bowling .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Search engines gang up on Microsoft on November 15, 1999
  2. Google surprises with the search for pathetic failures Heise-online from December 6, 2003
  3. Pascal Herbert: Google bomb: dangerous cult - GWB. In: January 30, 2008, accessed December 16, 2019 .
  4. Screenshot , ( Memento of the original from October 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved October 7, 2010 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. The Google bomb on Angela Merkel
  6. Polskie Radio, "Google-bombing Poland's president trial begins"
  7. Insult process: Pole mocked Kaczynski via Google bomb Spiegel-Online from September 12, 2007
  9. Google defused "bomb" Heise-Online from January 25, 2009
  10. Internet campaign against Republicans: Santorum and the anal sex Süddeutsche Zeitung of January 7, 2012
  11. Jörg Breithut: Google search for "idiot" leads to Donald Trump., July 20, 2018, accessed on July 23, 2018 .
  12. Official Google Blog: Googlebombing 'failure' Marissa Mayer, Director of Consumer Web Products on September 16, 2005
  13. Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: A quick word about Googlebombs Matt Cutts, Google Director of Search Quality on January 25, 2007
  14. ^ Secret bomb disposal on Google Heise-online from January 28, 2007
  15. What Is Google Bowling And Negative SEO
  16. The Saboteurs Of Search