Let’s drop an autocomplete bomb!
Google’s defense would sound tenable if its own algorithms weren’t so easy to trick. In 2010, the marketing expert Brent Payne paid an army of assistants to search for “Brent Payne manipulated this.” Soon anyone typing “Brent P” into Google would see that phrase in their autocomplete suggestions.
Such autocomplete bombing seems like it could be a great tactic for media activists. It would be a really cool way to reach a small, but targeted, group of people looking for something specific. The only thing you have to do is pick a reasonably low search term and get a bunch of people to “manipulate it.” I
Because proper names have smaller search traffic this is probably ideal for character assassination. For example, it would be great if we could get a search for “UC Regents” to autocomplete as “UC Regents Hate Students, Love Wall St.”
But because my new favorite activist project is the Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee, I’d love to do something around debt.
From playing with Google’s adwords keyword recommendation tool, it looks like “need help with debt” is searched less than 2,000 times a month. Maybe we should try to get a few thousand people to search “need help with debt? then help abolish it” and get that little message of resistance to appear in front of a few thousand people in the coming year.
What do you think? Do you have a better idea for an autocomplete bomb? Let me know!