Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, it’s been nearly impossible to ignore the hype surrounding the final season of the wildly popular show. A central portion of the buzz has centered on the plot line with thousands of fans taking to social media to vent their frustrations about the story arc of their favorite characters. But they didn’t stop there.
A particularly disgruntled and tech-savvy group recently “Google-bombed” the show’s creators, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, so that their picture was the top result in a Google search for “bad writers.” The idea started in a Reddit channel dedicated to Game of Thrones and, in the words of Mashable’s Tanzim Pardiwalla, “Boy, did it work!”
The Google Bomb has received widespread media attention, but it’s far from the first time tech-savvy communities have manipulated search results to vent frustrations—pop cultural, political, or otherwise—or to simply make a high-profile joke. Whether you’re an executive, IT leader, or data scientist, the following noteworthy Google Bombs serve as a good reminder that technology is not perfect, and the fight against accuracy and transparency requires human intervention. Here are some other examples of memorable Google Bombs:
- George W. Bush: In the mid-2000’s, when George W. Bush was the U.S. president, his biography on the official White House website was the top result in a search for “miserable failure.” This particular Google Bomb had some staying power as it wasn’t diffused until 2007, more than three years after it was first spotted.
- McDonald’s: The world-renowned hamburger chain was linked to the film, Supersize Me, which at the time was a film deeply critical of the brand and quality of food.
- Chuck Norris: The actor has become a popular source for internet memes, fueled in part by a site called NoChuckNorris which is intended to trick visitors into thinking it’s an actual Google results page. According to an article in SearchEnginePeople, there was a time when searching for ‘Chuck Norris’ and hitting I’m Feeling Lucky informed the visitor that “Google won’t search for Chuck Norris because it knows you don’t find Chuck Norris, he finds you.”
- Bulgarian Government: In 2009, bloggers discovered a glitch in the Bulgarian government’s website that prevented Google from properly indexing it. The group was able to exploit this to make the site the top result for a Bulgarian phrase that means “Ruin, failure, or collapse” in every language.
While some of these are more malice-driven than others, one could argue that few people actually believed the results. But there is a darker side to Google Bombs and other search manipulations, particularly in today’s social media age when many people view articles shared on Facebook and other platforms as inherently true without questioning the source. It’s important to remember not to trust everything you hear on the internet and be aware of the shortcomings of search like Google Bombing.