The concept of Googlebombing has been around for quite some time
. Basically, you get a bunch of folks to link to a certain site using a specific word or phrase and hope that Google picks it up and the site you link to reaches the top of the list. Wikipedia has a lot of good info on the history of Googlebombing
. It's especially popular in the political arena, particularly in trying to insult a politician one side doesn't like by associating that person with a derogatory word or phrase. During the last Presidential election, both major candidates had this done to them. The real damage of a Googlebomb is quite miniscule. Often, the phrases being used are somewhat rare -- which is what allows the Googlebomb to work in the first place (otherwise, there's a lot more competition to get it up the list). Second, it's unlikely to impact anyone's political views to do a search on an insulting phrase and see a link to a political candidate. Realistically, all that happens with most Googlebombs is that the group that set it up sends it around to a bunch of supporters, who Google the phrase and laugh at a politician they never liked in the first place. At best, all it does is stir up the opposition to get angry at Google and then to do a Googlebomb of their own. All in all, it's basically a harmless waste of time (and more recently, Google has become much more effective in preventing Googlebombs from working).
However, as pointless and harmless as they are, apparently not everyone is comfortable with being on the receiving end of a Googlebomb. A programmer in Poland trying to practice his programming skills, created a simple piece of software that would apparently automate the process of creating a Googlebomb (it's not entirely clear how). He did so with a test using Poland's president and a derogatory search word. Apparently, his software worked... but Polish officials were not amused, arresting the guy for insulting the president
. It wasn't hard to track the guy down, as he didn't make any real effort to hide himself. What's really bizarre, though, is that this guy is now facing three years in prison for a simple little hack that probably had no impact on what anyone thought of Poland's president. Of course, we probably should note that, in arresting this guy for such a silly online prank, Poland has called a lot more attention
to this little stunt than if it had just ignored it and let it run its course.