October 12, 2003

Iraq "astroturf" letters, and Googling

I just sent this to Dave Farber's list, as a supplement for investigating the Olympian story where US newspapers barraged with same letter from different soldiers.

From: Seth Finkelstein
To: Dave Farber
Subject: Re: [IP] US newspapers barraged with same letter from different soldiers

On Sun, Oct 12, 2003 at 09:26:57AM -0400, Dave Farber wrote:
> Original URL: http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=12049
> A Google search by the INQ shows only two online newspapers so far
> including one of the key phrases: "The quality of life and security
> for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a large part of
> why that has happened." ...
> The Google links are to the Register-Herald and the Pittsburgh Daily
> Courier.

I just replicated what they did. They made a searching procedure mistake. They searched the phrase as normal, but forgot or didn't know that by default, Google doesn't show "very similar" results. In this case, "very similar" results are exactly what they wanted. They should have followed the link on the search page which says:

"If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

Many more online newspapers with the astroturf are then visible, e.g.

http://www.mvtelegraph.com/opinion/83932mtnview09-11-03.htm http://www.dailymail.com/news/Opinion/200309105/ http://www.uticaod.com/archive/2003/09/11/opinion/14782.html

Seth Finkelstein Consulting Programmer sethf[at-sign]sethf.com http://sethf.com

P.S.: Hmm, maybe I should go into "Google studies", market myself as a "Google-expert consultant" :-)

That PS is a reference to a recent report I wrote, which is currently a story.

Google Spam Filtering Gone Bad

Google studies. Definitely, Google studies. Google may have warts, but they aren't evil. They don't threaten or sue. They don't send out PR smears. One day I might even conceivably get paid for expertise here, which has never happened with my censorware research. Google, google, google ...

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google , politics | on October 12, 2003 07:21 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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