The PJ Tatler

Google Image Search for 'Completely Wrong' Shows Romney Pics

Yes, but is it a deliberate effort by the pro-Obama giant to make Romney look bad?

Um…not so fast my conspiracy-minded friends. CNN:

A Google spokesman said the gallery of photos is the unintentional result of normal Google analytics, which produce images associated with popular phrases in news headlines and search terms, and not the result of any effort to skew the results.

In this case, Google’s algorithms picked up on news coverage of Romney saying last week he was “completely wrong” when he made controversial statements last spring that 47% of Americans were “victims” and dependent on government. Romney took some political heat for the original comments, which were captured by a hidden camera at a private fundraiser in May and made public last month.

The former Massachusetts governor, speaking last Thursday on Fox News, disavowed his earlier statements.

“Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right,” Romney said, “In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.”

The Google results page of Romney photos was noticed Wednesday by tech blog Mashable, a content partner, and other news sites.

A Romney campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.

The episode recalls past examples of “Google bombs,” or intentionally skewed Internet search results, for politicians’ names. In perhaps the most famous case, pranksters in the mid-2000s created large numbers of links that caused Google to reference President George W. Bush (and later President Barack Obama) in response to searches for “miserable failure.” Google later tweaked its analytics to discourage the practice

Most website owners try to game the search engine algorithms using key words and other techniques that may or may not move a particular post up the rankings to the coveted first page of search results. There are companies out there who will, for a hefty fee, use their own proprietary methods in trying to game the search engines.

But their methods are constantly under duress from Google and other search engines who tweak their analytics to try and defeat the effort to skew search results. Hence, an arms race of sorts as the search engines try to stay one step ahead of the gamers.

Despite the explanation by Google, there is always the nagging feeling in the back of one’s mind that the super geeks at the pro-Obama corporation get a chuckle out of trying to put one over on us. It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially given Google’s image as a Death Star in the web firmament.

But it still isn’t likely.