Friday, June 4, 2010

"Say what?" moment...

Via The Huffington Post we hear that BP "... has not only created the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, it's trying to manipulate and control the news ..." The story, headlined 'BP Using Google To Manipulate Public Opinion, first dings BP for initially trying to get workers to sign contracts with "gag" clauses. It's right here, even though this is old news and BP quickly pulled back after a barrage of well-deserved criticism.

It then goes on to the real 'outrage.' "... Even more important, BP is using paid search to influence public opinion as people look for information about the oil spill and its consequences. Just Google any of the common search terms related to the disaster and what pops up first? BP. Since this catastrophe is one of the hot search topics of the year, you can imagine what BP is paying for the privilege of elbowing out other news and opinion sites that would normally buy at least one of these terms. But money talks--and oil money, as slippery as it may be, talks louder than most ..."

The author quotes some "search marketing" person, who says this BP tactic "... is very effective, because BP gets its message, 'Learn more about how BP is helping' atop almost every Google search permutation related to the spill, and effectively blocks non-profits (with much smaller pockets) from getting their message across."

Wow, BP using its ill-gotten gains and financial muscle to stifle criticism and muzzle the poor non-profits... Those dastardly, oil-spilling, money-swilling, louts. Which leads us to the "say what?" moment. Below is a screen shot of the results of a Google search on the words oil spill:

Sure enough, BP's sponsored link, clearly marked as such, comes out on top (see the yellow-highlighted section). But in no way does it "effectively block" either sponsored links by other non-profits, or links to other (possibly critical) stories. We clearly see that of eight other sponsored links (highlighted in green), six are from the aforementioned 'smaller pocketed' non-profits. And then we have 65 pages of links (part of page one highlighted in pink) to stories on the oil spill.

What irremediable tripe! What total codswallop! The person who wrote this should be hooted off stage, while the "publication" that saw fit to "publish" this ought to be ashamed. However, since this aligns with the mood of the day it is taken as worthy "news." In reality, set beside the magnitude of the spill and the effect that it will have on the environment (possibly for decades), drumming up "outrage" about a Google sponsored link by BP is so ridiculously off-target that it almost makes this blogger think that the writer might be a BP mole trying to muddy the waters (sorry, bad pun). On brief reflection, and applying Occam's Razor, it probably just is a manifestation of stupidity...

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