Search Google Images for the phrase “completely wrong” and you’ll find a barrage of picture of Mitt Romney. It appears not to be a political prank, but rather a genuine algorithm quirk that’s now gaining momentum.
This doesn’t appear to be a case of intentional “Google bombing” as has happened with politicians before and involves people deliberately scheming to produce a bunch of links to a particular page to boost its rankings for a particular phrase. That tactic isn’t easy to pull off, but is helped by the fact Google favors recently updated content.
Mashable notes some former political Googlebombs, most of which were aimed at Republicans, though John Kerry did find himself unwillingly associated with the term “waffles.”
Instead the Romney incident appears to have started organically. It looks to have come from his recent apology/explanation for his comments referring to “47 percent of voters.” After some defensiveness in the first few days after the comments, Romney decided a total apology would play better.
Many news reports of the apology therefore emphasized his choice of the phrase “completely wrong” to describe his original comments (or at least the way they’d been interpreted.) With Google giving added weight to major news sites when ranking sources and links, the images accompanying these reports soon started showing up on the image search results for said phrase.
It didn’t take long for social media users to spot this and tell others, creating the odd situation where half of the images for “completely wrong” come from pages referring to the images that appear for “completely wrong.” Circular as that is, it’s better for Google than simply having nothing but straight pictures of Romney with no explanation: now even conspiracy theorists should realize the search giant isn’t making a political point.
By the way, while we welcome comments, if you think this is the place to debate your electoral choices, you are completely wrong.