Last week much of the internet was abuzz about Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie, “America” and particularly how Google was presumably manipulating search results to somehow harm the movies success. The situation escalated when attorneys for the movie sent a legal letter to Google demanding that search results for the new movie be properly enacted and an explanation of whether the issue was human or algorithm related.
We don’t do political here at Bundle Post, so no reference to the details of the movie and/or our personal beliefs will be included in this post, however this situation begs a different viewpoint that is not currently being defined.
There are two prominent points of view being put forward on this situation, so I think we should first outline them, then open a differing discussion about what might be really going on here.
1) Google Purposeful Manipulation – The insinuation that has driven most of the buzz on this story is that Google has some political agenda that opposes the movie and that is the reason for the search result failure.
2) A “Problem” With The Google Search Algorithm – In a statement from Google to The Hollywood Reporter they said “that it has implemented a fix for the problem, caused by confusion — Google says — with “America” being a common term. But it will still take “some time” before the fix rolls out in order to make showtimes appear.”
Are you sure about that Google?
Putting those two points aside, I think having a proper perspective here makes a lot of sense. Google is an ad platform. All of it’s sites, products and services are focused on achieving two things:
1) Data gathering of user profiles, habits and interests.
2) Delivering more targeted advertisements.
Whether you are using gmail, Google Plus, an Android device or any other Google owned product or site, the entire focus of the company is to improve these two things. It’s how Google makes money. Advertisers pay to improve their exposure on Google search, ad platforms and other owned sites.
The hard facts are this – Google has no interest in showing you the latest, relevant content for your searches. They want to show you the most popular PAGES associated with your search, which forces brands, agencies and marketers to pay to compete for the exposure of those most popular pages.
Knowing Google’s real agenda and business model, it seems that what occurred here is simply how it works for any search topic. Popular pages will get the highest SEO results and therefore the top search results. Google is a business that derives revenue from Pay Per Click advertisements on their search engine as well as on other sites and platforms. They want movie producers, venues and studios to pay to promote their wares, just as any local restaurant or national retail chain does.
I don’t believe that Google is dumb enough to put forth a blatant discriminatory political agenda that could harm their business or future revenue. However, they certainly seemed to have opened Pandora’s box with the statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter.
Did they open the door for other media companies, brands and marketers to create news and bad press for Google? Did Google offer legal grounds for others to also demand that their search results be modified or improved? I’m not sure about all that, but they are interesting questions to consider.
At the end of the day, America the movie seems to have received a lot of additional press and Google might have come off looking a little poorly. Social media has a powerful impact on these situations and this example shows just that.
What say you?
*PS – A search on Bing for “America Movie” returned the proper search results at first position. #interesting