This story should serve as a warning for every internet user. It begins at a well known Israeli web-portal hook.co.il, with Shai Rozentsweig's blog, who writes funny satirical skits. Shai created a post that slightly mocks Tzipi Livni (a leading member of the Kadima party, and currently the front-runner for the primary election of the ruling Kadima Party) and her meager record of actual political achievements. This led to Google's intervention, most probably prompted by Tzipi Livni's team; an embarrassing surrender on Google's behalf, removing the blog from its search results.
Tom Wagner describes the events as they happened:
Shai Rozentzweig published a post named “Tzipi… Livni… achievements…” (ציפי ליבני עשייה) in his funny blog. Like many other readers, I couldn't stand the temptation and Googled “Tzipi Livni Achievements”. To my great surprise, Shai Rozentsweig's blog came up first. I found this very funny, added a comment to his blog, and wrote a note on my Facebook profile, saying – “the blogger that killed Tzipi Livni”. I added that if people who browse the web looking for her achievements see this post, it is proof that she lacks any!
One of my Facebook friends, who is close to Livni, saw this post and all of the comments it generated. He searched in Google and was alarmed as Shai's satirical post came up first. Now, several days after publishing that blog post, it is impossible to find it using Google search. If you query “Tzipi Livni Achievements” you do not see the blog post even in page 500. If one enters a whole sentence from the blog post into Google's searchbox, Shai's blog will not come up in the results.
How else can this be explained? I see a hysterical telephone call from Livni's office to someone in the Google offices, who most probably blocked Shai's blog. Everyone who trusts Google as a reliable search engine needs to know that Google is susceptible to political influence, that Google surrenders quickly, and that Google doesn't really care about information integrity when there is a possibility that nobody will find out.
Tom asked fellow bloggers to link to his story, hoping that if Google makes him “invisible” at least other links will keep the story alive. A long stream of comments trailed after Tom's story. Below are two of the many comments:
Sonny Daor writes:
It is shocking that Livni chose to deal with the situation this way, instead of doing actual things that go into her record and appear in the search result. Moreover, it is even worse that Google is realizing the Big Brother prophecies linked to the company from the very beginning.
Ronen Reznik writes:
I am not surprised from the minister's reaction – it is the anticipated behavior from a minister who is aspiring to be our next leader. Now she proved that she is not able to stand against criticism, even if light and satirical.
Google has no personal commitment towards us, but to the dollar! And the $$ interest dictates capitulation to local (political) forces (Israel, China, Saudi Arabia, and more…). We need to boycott Google. There are other information highways!
A day later, Tom receives a phone-call from Google's PR representative in Israel, Stern-Ariely. He writes:
I was very surprised – since when does Google call people who write a post against it? I will try to dictate the conversation in the most comprehensive manner:
‘…Google is not involved. It is not possible for us to block results within Google's organic search…’ When asked how it is possible that a blog appears in the first place, then disappears completely and then reappears in first place after much anger and outrage, the representative replied that he still has no answer.
Personally I am skeptical that I will ever receive an answer. My interpretation – Google surrendered first time to pressure from Tzipi Livni, and second time from us readers, when realizing that they've been found. If anyone has an alternative explanation please let me know.