NY Times duped by Google bomb  JUN 23 2004

When I read this recap of Google's amended S-1 in the NY Times yesterday, the last two paragraphs struck me as a bit strange:

Separately, there was an indication yesterday that Google's vaunted corporate culture may be under stress as a result of competition and the stock offering. As of yesterday afternoon, typing the words "out of touch management" into Google caused the search engine to list as its first result a page describing the company's top management.

A person close to the company said that Google employees had engaged in the practice of "Google bombing." A Google bomb is an attempt by a group of people to cause a particular Web page to become the first result for a search phrase. The Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The "out of touch management" search indeed works as stated, but how they got from that to "Google's vaunted corporate culture may be under stress as a result of competition and the stock offering" left me baffled. I knew that I'd seen this particular Google bomb before, but couldn't recall where. Chris Sherman, in a thread about the article on John Battelle's site notes that the Google bomb was initiated by Daniel Brandt back in March. It would seem that the "person close to the company" was not as close as the Times thought they were. If this were a sensationalistic news site, I might wonder why the New York Times is "press bombing" Google. But that would be silly, like tacking some ill-conceived speculation onto the end of a story about boring financial statements to juice it up a little. It's a forgivable error, but one that needs correcting. Paging Daniel Okrent.


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