Deconstructing Google bombs: A breach of symbolic power or just a goofy prank?

Clifford Tatum

Abstract



In this study I compare two Google bombs using Melluci’s (1996) social movement framework. Viewing the Google bombing practice as a social movement provides an informative lens from which to analyze the nature and goals as well as the results of this form of online collective action. The empirical basis for this research relies on analysis of the content and context of Google bomb hyperlinking using an approach informed by Beaulieu’s (2005) notion of sociable hyperlinks. From this study I conclude that the Google bombing practice is an online protest technique not unlike the "media mind bomb" developed by the late Bob Hunter of Greenpeace (2004) fame. In the case of Hunter’s mind bombs, sounds and images were used to form alternate constructions of reality in the news media. Similarly, Google bombs are constructed by manipulating the relative ranking of an Internet search term and thereby creating alternate constructions of reality through collective action online.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v10i10.1287



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