Manipulating Search Engine Results – Picking Winners and Losers

I didn’t know this was a thing, but apparently there is (or was) money to be made publishing mug shots.  You make that money by charging for taking the mug shots down from your web site.  Innocent people that were arrested before being exonerated (and probably some guilty people too) will pay you money to avoid having their lives ruined. 

In response to something of an outcry about this, Google has modified its search algorithm to demote these mug shot sites in search results.  In that way, the site owners lose revenue and the subjects of the mug shots are less likely to be affected by the publication of their mug shots. 

That’s nice, but it also reminds us that Google, Yahoo, Bing and the others have the power to decide winners and losers in other contexts.  We’ve talked about the power of search engine results here in the past.  Staying above the fold is life.

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