Google bombing becomes new tactic for political campaigns

Posted by Mark Raby

Chicago (IL) - With the Democrats desperately trying to take back control of Congress, and Republicans seemingly in the news every day for a new scandal, Chris Bowers has set into motion a plan to further expand both of these issues by calling for a national liberal team of "Google bombers" who would ideally flood the search engine's online algorithm to highly associate Republican candidates with a single scandal that's been reported about them.

For example, a quick search for Californian candidate Richard Pombo immediately brings up stories about his ties to Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff, two Washington guys who were indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges. Or, more front page-worthy, searches for Republican speaker Dennis Hastert bring up stories that claim he was negligent about the Mark Foley scandal.

Although the goal of the project is to link voters between Republicans and bad press they've received, the one who initiated it, Chris Bowers, says he only wants to "Google bomb" candidate searches with news from non-partisan sources. Bowers wants to associate the key Republican candidates with a specific hyperlink to an "unflattering" story, and encourages users to paste the hyperlink whenever referring the candidate online. Ideally for Bowers, this would then cause that link to shoot up in the rankings when people search Google for information on that candidate.

On the liberal blog Daily Kos, Bowers states the purpose of the project as "the utilization of Google Adwords and simultaneous, widespread embedded hyperlinks in order to drive as many voters as possible toward the most damning, non-partisan article written on the Republican candidate in seventy key US Senate and House races."

Within hours of posting his idea, Bowers noted that all 70 targeted "key" Republican candidates were now associated with at least one negative news story. "Many campaigns won't know what hit them. Once again, the netroots prove their strength. High fives all around," he said in response to the high turnout. Bowers keeps a running tab of the articles associated with each of the 70 Republicans on a publicly accessible Google Spreadsheets file.

Google Bombing is not a new exploitation, and it's not the first time it's been used to make a political statement. For example, a search for " failure" once brought up George W. Bush as a top result. Bowers claims it's not an attack, but rather the beginning of a new campaign tactic for everyone. "There's no hidden agenda. One of the reasons for this is to show that campaigns should be doing this on their own," he said.