When I was a kid we’d deface walls with spray paint, now these young whipper-snappers are defacing Google News!

The SEO Blog – March 13, 2006:

Reading through SEO focused blog entries, Vandetta found an article that explained how to fool Google’s news system by writing fake press releases. Sensing an opportunity to experiment and play a joke on his friends, the self-described “Google fanboy” decided to see what would happen if he submitted a fake Google press release claiming the 15-year old New Jersey student was Google’s youngest employee.

A few hours after posting the fake press release, Vandetta logged into the news search tool Digg after receiving an automated email from MAKEBot (Digg’s Spider), to find his practical joke had become a credible international tech story. Google was even displaying reference to the press release in Google News and at in the news results placed above search results relating to Google employment or hiring.

While the prank was a juvenile as it was creative, Vandetta’s fake press release has exposed a credibility problem for Google and might introduce new costs for search marketing firms that use legitimate press releases as a means of promotion. His experiment exposed the fact the automated system that is Google News does not verify press releases before publishing them as factual news pieces.

  1. FARTaLOT says:

    Why would Digg.com need a “spider bot” if all the news posts are submitted by it’s readers anyway?

  2. malren says:

    The MAKEbot has nothing whatsoever to do with Digg. Just another clueless reporter writing about things they don’t understand.

  3. FARTaLOT says:

    I guess he meant to say “google news” not “digg.”

  4. nadrew says:

    I can’t ever figure out how to use your system.
    But, I got a pet peeve!
    When I look at a slide show, the buttons always jump off the bottom of the screen. This is annoying as I have to repostion the mouse for every shot!
    Do you not agree?
    Change the paradigm. Let the picture jump off the top of the screen. Let the controls stay fixed.
    Of course this would be reversed for controls on top.
    Only my thoughts, but what a crock of shit. Who ever thought of this? And more importantly, why hasn’t it been fixed? Isn’t anyone pissed off?

    Sorry for the off topic, but I can’t understand how to post to your blog?


  5. Chris says:

    Huray! You did it Andy! You posted to the blog!

    Now, take a deep breath. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to get pissed off (Just ask John D.), but the display of a website is not one of them. Life is too short!

    Why the hell doesn’t the comment box automaticaly check my spelling? Get in this century! LAME!

  6. John Seither says:

    I particularly enjoy your participation in TWIT. It’s nice to see someone other than the MTV crowd talking about computers. Having been a programer/system designer since early 70s, retired supervisory federal agent, university instructor and small business owner, I have difficulty identifying with many of the talking heads currently claiming to be computer experts. Keep up the fine work.

  7. I wrote the article that inspired the 15 year old’s prank. See:

    How to spam Google News

    I noticed months ago that a person named Daniel Imperato has been posting articles on every topic under the sun via i-Newswire, and that Google News was faithfully picking them up. So I tested the system with a press release of my own and POOF it was on Google News.

    I blogged about the phenomenon and the 15 year old read the piece and did his hoax. Today Will Ferrell had to issue a press release denying reports of his death.

    And Google is now saying that they’ve pulled the plug on i-Newswire as a Google News source.

  8. Tom Vendetta says:


    Haha. I listen to TWiT as much as little kids watch nickelodeon and cartoon network. If I had a dollar for every time you mentioned your blog’s url, I wouldn’t need a job at google 🙂


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