The president of Brazil's Senate, Renan Calheiros, has been recently absolved over accusations of graft in a 40-to-35 secret ballot vote in the Senate House. The accusation against Calheiros was that he had personal expenses paid by a construction firm in exchange of political favors. He was discharged in a session carried out behind closed doors even after the Senate Ethics Commission concluded its investigation accusing him of unethical behavior and recommending his impeachment.
Feeling outraged as Calheiros got away, many bloggers around the country started to Google bomb the Senate and in less than 24 hours they achieved what they wanted: the Senate's website is the first result served up by Google (Brazil and US) when the search words are “vergonha nacional”, that is to say “national shame” in Portuguese. The webpage appears straight away when “I am feeling Lucky” is hit.
It all started with this post, by Rodrigo Stulzer from Empirical Empire [pt], in which he has now gathered nearly hundred comments and trackbacks:
“Faça o link: Vergonha Nacional. Não demora nem cinco minutos”
“Make the link: National Shame. It doesn't take more than five minutes”
Just by cyber-coincidence, in another part of the country Bender Blog [pt] came up with the same idea:
Ao invés de sair por aí postando que o Senado é a vergonha nacional sugiro fazer algo diferente:
Quanto mais gente lincar estes termos da forma que eu fiz, mais rapidamente o Google mostrará para o mundo que o senado brasileiro é a vergonha nacional. E então, alguém a fim de colaborar?
Instead of going around posting that the Senate is the national shame, I'd suggest you to do something different:
The more people link to these words like I've done, the quicker Google will show the world that the Brazilian Senate is the national shame. So, is anybody up for helping?
Many people were very keen to help and even quicker to respond. Rodrigo Stulzer [pt] celebrates the achievement:
“A blogosfera acabou de mostrar a sua união! Em menos de 24 horas de campanha conseguimos colocar o site do senado federal como sendo a primeira resposta quando procurado o termo Vergonha Nacional, no google. Se quiser experimente você mesmo clicando aqui. Parabéns a todos os cidadãos que defendem o seu país!”
“The blogophere has shown its strength! In less than 24 hours of campaigning, we managed to make the national senate's website the first result when the term National Shame is searched on Google. If you want to try it yourself, click here. Congratulations to every citizen who stands up for their country!”
After the success of the protest, Bianca B from Não Pertube [pt] thinks that cyber-activism is the way to go. She says:
“Acredito que iniciativas como essa se utilizando sa internet – coisa que usamos e conhecemos muito bem – só tende a ser cada vez melhor sucedida, e cada vez melhor planejada e com efeitos cada vez melhores”
“I believe that initiatives making use of the Internet – something that we use and know well – like this one are only going to succeed more and more, be better planned every time and achieve better results each time”
Marcio Merlone from Merlone’s Binary Log [pt] believes these protests can be the embryo of bigger changes. He hopes that:
“Ações isoladas como um Google Bombing não farão qualquer mudança em nada, porém em conjunto, as ações isoladas formam as sementes de modificações maiores amanhã. Os resultados sim serão motivo de orgulho, não estas ações”
“Isolated acts like a Google Bombing will not change anything, but isolated acts together make up the seeds of tomorrow's bigger changes. Their results will indeed be a reason for pride, not the actions themselves”
Other bloggers have found different ways of protesting. In Blog do Cobra [pt] there is a list of senators’ e-mails, in case netcitizens feel like dropping them a line. Burajiru [pt] is promoting a sweepstake to find out who the senators not telling the truth are in this case: there were only 35 votes against Calheiro's discharge, but so far 46 senators have claimed to have voted so. Blogger 30 & Alguns [pt] has made available a list of all related pieces of news and posts on the Internet. And many bloggers have published a little video anagram made by Paim Comunicação for the Bienal B, the Contemporary Art Show in Porto Alegre, in which the word senator becomes dishonor:
The first successful Brazilian Google bomb redirected president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva‘s biography to searches for “despota cachaceiro” (boozer tyrant). On an international level, everyone must have come across George Bush's CV when typing “miserable failure” or just “failure”. Since then, Google has announced that they now have “an algorithm that minimizes the impact of many Googlebombs”.