Will Later Search Engines Show Obama As Born In Kenya? Can Pepsi Say Coke Is Out Of Business and Search Engines Will Agree?
A long-term high-profile client of 5WPR called me recently. He told me he got engaged for the 1st time and is planning a holiday wedding. He’s never been married – yet was mystified that on Google there’s a new info graph which refers to him as married. He wanted it corrected – so we prepared a notarized letter from him stating he’s never been married, copied the 1st page of his tax returns saying so, and multiple recent news clippings referring to him as a bachelor – and sent it off to Google.
“The data appearing in search results is derived from an algorithm that indexes content available on the Web and evaluates it based on hundreds of variables. Manual edits to search results are extremely rare. Google isn’t publishing information; we’re facilitating access to information that’s already on the Web. The problem is there is a news source who lists your client as having a spouse. I suggest contacting those publications and asking them to issue a correction. If they make a correction or remove the references, the right information should eventually get picked-up by our algorithms.”
Nearly 10 years ago a newspaper listed his then-girlfriend as his wife – and he never had it corrected – so, today search engines index him as married for the past 10 years, despite the fact that it was incorrect. Even with all the documentation, and a statement from the ex-girlfriend we still have no movement on the story, and the newspaper in question won’t correct a 10 year old story.
It’s quite the catch-22 – If CNN says George Bush was a fascist, or Fox News says Obama was born in Kenya, will it then show up in their infographs? Can I create a blog post saying a competing PR firm is out of business and search graphs will show it as such? Scary catch 22 – Clear previous inaccurate media before online changes can happen.
While one can understand the logic in how search engines have to manage their search content, there is no reset button or easy fix in the years ahead. Public Relations and brand management will get even more important in years to come for online search reputation.
“The quack, the charlatan, the jingo, and the terrorist can flourish only where the public is deprived of independent access to information. But where all news comes at second-hand, where all testimony is uncertain, men cease to respond to truths and respond simply to opinions. The environment in which they act is not realities themselves but the pseudo-environment of reports, rumors, and guesses. The whole reference of thought comes to be what somebody asserts and not what actually is.” –Walter Lippman, Liberty and the News