Friday, June 09, 2006


How to spam Google News

SF Indymedia has a fascinating guide on How to spam Google News.

Specifically, how you can have Google News faithfully report 'as news' pretty much whatever you want.
I decided to test the system. I wrote up a press release about my recent trip to Key West, throwing in just enough legitimate quotes to make it appear to be serious. I used one of Imperato's channels,, which purports to be a “free press-release distribution center” based in Fountain Valley, California. i-newswire has free and for-fee services; I paid the $25. (Imperato also uses, based in Hamburg, Germany, so I sent a copy to them as well.)

After waiting a few hours, I found that my entire press release had been indexed by Google News. For instance, I could search for myself:
A 15 year old read my blog entry, and decided to post a bogus story claiming that Google had hired him to head security for Gmail. Dutifully, Google News picked up his submission to i-Newswire. His claim was rapidly debunked, and he retracted the story and apologized to Google.

Then things really went amok: someone used the same i-Newswire-to-Google News path to post a claim that actor Will Ferrell had died in a freak paragliding accident. And again, dutifully, Google News picked up the story.

This time, the (false) story had impact. Folks began to believe that Ferrell had died, and word of this (false) tale spread on the Internet. In a 21st century echo of Mark Twain, Ferrell issued a news release affirming that he was still alive.
More on this issue here and here with CNN's gloating here.

I have said before, as long as Google News regards the open and largely unmoderated Indymedia as a "news site" (even when Indymedia sometimes rejects the news), it discredits itself.

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