Using one of the previous year’s astro-turfing project as a springboard, our group wanted to see if we could also create an engaging experiment that could reflect the tamper-able nature of the online world. Google bombing, we thought.

Google bombing: causing websites to rank highly on Google for unrelated search terms by tampering with the Google Algorithm. For example in 2004, the search query ‘Miserable Failure’ would have produced results of George Bush.

Political/media tactic or benevolent trolling, the nature of Google Algorithms means that the online sphere can be manipulated, altered and affected easily (kind of!), albeit not necessarily reflecting the true nature of the status quo.

This reminded me of how high-ranking websites, and the implied popularity that comes with it may make it seem like that the majority of people hold and support that website and its views, and that that view has ‘authority’. If you had typed “jew” in Google on the April of 2004, Jew Watch (an anti-Semitic site) would have emerged as the the top result.

Finklestein 1 says:

“Search results for the word “jew” can represent a kind of plurality dominance over diluted opposition”.

So through Google Bombing as a recent case study, we wanted to explore:

  1. Is the algorithmic system of Google democratic?
  2. In what ways does it shape and affect the public sphere?

However our idea bombed as it was impractical and too difficult to execute.

1 Finklestein, Seth. (2011). Google, Links, and Popularity versus Authority. In J. Turow & L. Tsui (Eds.), The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age (pp. 104- 124). Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.


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