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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Santorum is Busy Doing the Opposite of Fixing His 'Google Problem'

Google definition of 'santorum'
Let's be clear here; Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will never, not in a million years, ever become the President of the United States. This is partly because Santorum's politics of hate are quickly becoming an anachronism and partly because the man is just dumber than a sack of hammers. The former reason is well-documented, while he's currently busy demonstrating the latter.

Politico:

A Google search for Santorum has generated some inappropriate results since gay columnist Dan Savage organized an online campaign to link graphic sexual terms to the socially conservative senator's name.

Now, the Republican presidential candidate says he's convinced Google could do something to remedy the issue, if the company wanted to.

"I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they'd get rid of it," Santorum said. "If you're a responsible business, you don't let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country."

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He continued: "To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can't handle but I suspect that's not true."


Ah, the plaintive and familiar cry of the rightwing victim.

Can Google do anything about Santorum's "Google problem?" Not anything that would make any sense. Santorum's problem isn't with Google, Santorum's problem is with all the people who define his name as "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." Google's search results are the result of a search algorithm that looks at things like relevant keywords, inbound links, and the popularity of the site. Santorum's problem isn't with Google, Santorum's problem is that he isn't really very well-liked. It's also the result of something called the "Streisand effect.

Basically, the Streisand effect works this way; the harder you try to remove information from the internet or the media, the more widely available that information will become. Why? Because your attempted removal of said information becomes news. News gets reported. Blogs pick it up. People talk about it on Twitter and Facebook. Put simply, by trying to remove the information, you get everyone to talk about the information. It's human nature. Without Santorum's attempt to clean up all the santorum everyone's left around the internet, the words "frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" would never have appeared on websites like legal scholar Jonathan Turley's blog, for example. And websites that are too squeamish to spell out the definition themselves just link to the very site that's the problem -- SpreadingSantorum.com, which is currently Google's top result for the query "Santorum" -- and increasing that site's standing as the top result. In fact, it's probably the sites that are too gun-shy to use the phrase "frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" that do more damage to Santorum's cause than the sites that do. All those inbound links really count for a lot.

If Google were to do Rick a favor and fix his problem for him, it would involve rewriting an algorithm that's helped make them a $175 billion company -- and worse, rewriting it in a way that would make it less accurate -- so I'm guessing that's pretty high on their list of things they're never going to do.

Rick's best option here would've been to simply shut up and hope that the transient, fad-like nature of the internet meme would kick in, allowing the whole thing to blow over. But that would be the strategy of a smarter man than Rick Santorum; which is why he'll never, not in a million years, ever become the President of the United States.

-Wisco


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