Published October 11, 2012
A Google Images search for the phrase “completely wrong” yields page after page of photos of the presidential candidate, calling to mind Google Bombs lobbed in the past against Rick Santorum, George W. Bush, and others.
But this is no Bomb, the company said.
A Google spokeswoman told FoxNews.com that Romney’s Google problem isn’t something the company can “fix” -- labeling it instead a “natural” effect of the algorithm. After secret video was released of the candidate saying he “didn’t have to worry about” 47 percent of the population, Romney used the phrase to describe his off-the-cuff comments.
"Clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right," Romney told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."
Numerous stories building off that comment have “organically” linked his image and the phrase, it seems -- rather than malicious efforts to smear his name. In contrast, the 2007 Google bomb that returned U.S. President George W. Bush as a result of searches for “miserable failure” was a malicious prank. Google did fix that.
This type of incident nonetheless raises eyebrows, especially given the general consensus that big tech -- including Google, Apple and Facebook -- lean left.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt has visited the White House 14 times since January 2009, according to White House visitor records. Schmidt gave $25,000 for the Obama inauguration in 2008, and the prolific political donor gave $5,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year alone.
A 2010 analysis by an NYU doctoral student labeled Google one of the most left-leaning companies among the Fortune 500 businesses he looked at.
A source with knowledge of the search engine said the company has an entire team dedicated to preventing abuse of Google’s search engine, and told FoxNews.com the company makes hundreds of improvements to its search algorithm throughout the year.
“This will probably change as the news story dies out,” the source told FoxNews.com.
Reputation managers often refer to this type of incident “image-jacking” -- and it’s happened to Romney once before already.
In February, a website named SpreadingRomney was launched, echoing a nearly 10-year-old website created by sex columnist Dan Savage that offered a repulsive description of Rick Santorum. Like a bully, it’s best just to ignore such repugnant manipulation of the Internet, said reputation management expert Kenneth Wisnefski.
“The more attention such sideshow distractions receive only takes away from politicians' ability to get their message out,” Wisnefski told FoxNews.com.
And Romney isn't the only one with unfortunate phrases linked to his image. A Google Images search for “one term proposition” returns countless images of President Barack Obama.