Santorum Can't Beat The Internet
Here’s an imaginary scenario. I’m an undecided Republican voter. Or, maybe, I’m an undecided independent voter a few months from now, and Rick Santorum is the presidential nominee. I want to find out more about this Santorum guy. What’s his deal? What does he stand for? This being 2012, I google his name.
I find this.
Santorum has generated a lot of buzz for himself with his wins in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri last night, but no amount of publicity seems like it will ever be able to dislodge that early piece of google activism by sex columnist Dan Savage a few years ago. As Santorum’s political star has risen, opposition to his anti-gay stances has only risen with him, and the website has stuck at the top of his google list. It seems like the only thing that would bring it down would be becoming president or some kind of association with Kim Kardashian.
It’s easy to criticize that kind of google bombing as a way of manipulating imperfect algorithms, but the Santorum website is up there for a reason: there is a giant portion of the internet hates Rick Santorum. The argument is there to be made that google should move it down in their results due to it being an obvious piece of political manipulation, but who are they to say that given all this time, Santorum hasn’t actually come to mean that thing that I’m not typing here?
The internet flexed its muscles in the SOPA decision, and it’s doing so again with the Santorum website. When you draw the Venn diagram of people who believe in gay rights and people who can influence the internet, there’s a tremendous overlap. If Santorum ever emerges from the smaller communities he’s found support in and tries to make it in a larger context, he’s going to have to fight against the kind of forces that have kept the protest website at the top of google. Hint: he’ll lose.