Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Burying Zoo News in Google

Dear Colleagues,

Woburn is getting a bit of stick from CAPS today. Apparently they have just discovered that there are companies which 'bury' news within Google searches. It is going on all the time. Such is the competition to be on Google page one for a particular search and preferably at number one that there are dozens of companies which offer their services to do just that. It is not a criminal act and it is not as if a news item disappears altogether it just goes down a page or three.

CAPS has obviously not used the service as they are on Google Page two whilst Woburn is on Google Page one.

As I say it is not a criminal act and is not so much an attempt to hide the bad as to promote something else. Not too difficult to do if you know how and easy to do if you have a few quid knocking about. As to paying "agencies to keep identities secret", well that's a new one. I really cannot see how that is possible. If the news has gone onto the internet....then it is there already. Unless a bribe is paid to remove a website and even then it may already be archived somewhere.

It is a bit different to having cash offered not to cover a story. Zoo News Digest has been offered money not to include links to certain stories on a number of occasions. Needless to say I did not accept. I wouldn't.

How celebrities and companies are keeping their secrets safe from Google
CELEBRITIES, blue-chip companies and tourist attractions are using a new breed of PR company to hide their secrets and damaging press stories in Google search results.
Online "reputation management" agencies promise to suppress negative search results by driving them down the rankings.
They typically use thousands of social networking profiles - set up using false names and operated using computer software to simulate the behaviour of a real person - to talk about and link to more positive results, pushing them above the negative stories.
The agencies do not identify their clients for fear of undoing the work they have carried out, but an investigation by The Times has discovered several cases.
Three public figures in Britain - an author and a Conservative politician, both of whom had extramarital affairs, and a married actor who paid a prostitute for sex - have approached agencies in the past week to help to keep their identities secret.
A further three - two actors and a prominent sportsman - have paid up to $30,000 a fortnight to use the services in the past six months.
Woburn Safari Park, owned by the Duke of Bedford, used an agency in Hertfordshire to hide press accounts of a damning government report that alleged animal mistreatment.
Google uses a complicated algorithm taking into account dozens of criteria to rank results for a search term, but one of the key factors is the number of links that a web page has

Now the above story was got hold of by CAPS and blown it out of proportion with statements :

Breaking News: In the Times today is a disturbing story that a leading UK safari park deliberately “buried” press reports on animal cruelty claims and mismanagement, which were originally unveiled by CAPS in 2010. CAPS provided evidence to support today’s report and Director, Liz Tyson, says:

“Our organisation has worked for many years to uncover poor practice, cruelty and neglect in zoos across the UK and we are consistently saddened to find out what goes on behind closed doors. To use technology in order to very deliberately hide failings as if it were a simple PR exercise goes to show the lack of accountability that zoos have for their actions. Not only that, but this manipulation of information misinforms those members of the public who want to make educated decisions on where they visit, and how they spend their money. Were people less likely to visit Woburn as a result of the reports? Yes. Do the public have a right to make that decision for themselves based on the fact of the matter? Absolutely.”

For your information the original Woburn story appeared in Zoo News Digest see there for the link :

Definitely not removed or hidden.


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