Sunday, June 6, 2010

BP buys Google, Yahoo Search Terms

There are plenty of things to bitch and complain about with regard to BP and the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. We can bitch about the genocide of marine life, BP's ineptness at stopping the leak, BP's ineptness in causing the leak in the first place, Obama's complete inability to kick those asses which need kicking, or a wealth of other aspects of this gigantic clusterfuck.

But this thing is just fucking weird: BP buys Google, Yahoo search words to keep people away from real news on Gulf oil spill disaster

In their most tenacious effort to control the ‘spin’ on the worst oil spill disaster in the history, BP has purchased top internet search engine words so they can re-direct people away from real news on the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

BP spokesman Toby Odone confirmed to ABC News that the oil giant had in fact bought internet search terms. So now when someone searches the words ‘oil spill’, on the internet, the top link will re-direct them to BP’s official company website.

Now, the way that is written, my first thought was that the term "redirect", used in the description, meant that google search results for the oil spill would redirect to BP pages. Which would mean that not only was BP evil, but Google and Yahoo would also be evil in their allowing BP to have that level of control over search results.

But if you play around with Google and Yahoo, you'll find that what happens is that when you search "oil spill" the first link at the top of the search results goes to this page on BP's site, and right below that are the links to pictures of dead pelicans and all of the other search results which normally appear.

So I'm not sure if this is evil or stupid.

It seems to be evil insofar as, presumably, the motivation for BP buying the search term, putting their site at the top of the results, is meant to direct people towards their own site so they can control the story. BP would like for everyone to get their news on the spill from BP, one supposes. But this is stupid insofar as their link appears just above every other link which would normally appear. So there is a big link to right above pictures of dead pelicans and actual news stories about what is actually going on. They are not redirecting anyone to, they've just added a new first search result; all of the other search results are still there, unchanged.

Additionally, since BP paid to have their company link appear at the tops of these pages, those links will be there for a while. So if this oil spill is ever stopped, it will still be the case that the first thing to appear when someone searches "oil spill" is going to be BP's site; they'll have made themselves to be perpetually linked (pun) to oil spills.

Another point of concern is what this says about Google and Yahoo. Both companies were willing to let BP buy the term "oil spill". Or, well, I do not know if "buy" is the correct word to use. But both companies were willing to take money from BP in exchange for putting a link to at the top of the search results for "oil spill". That could be kind of evil...but given what actually happened, it almost seems as if Google and Yahoo just took money from BP without really damaging anything. If anything, this is just another level of reinforcing the link between "BP" and "oil spill" in people's understanding of the situation.

I would like to bitch and rant about this; I would like for this to anger up the blood. But, really, it just seems to indicate that BP's Public Relations division does not understand how search results work. I mean, maybe someone somewhere will click on that top link and never read anything else, ever, about the oil spill.

But someone who is that fucking stupid isn't worth worrying about. They are probably going to vote for Palin, anyway.

1 comment:

Caleb said...

But someone who is that fucking stupid isn't worth worrying about. They are probably going to vote for Palin, anyway.