What Does Googlewashing Mean?

Googlewashing refers to how a term’s meaning can change according to the top Google search results for that term. Googlewashing was first used to refer to an anti-war phrase that appeared in a New York Times story in 2003 – “the second superpower.” This term was co-opted by tech bloggers and made to mean something else, thus pushing the original meaning of the term further down the page in Google’s search results. This incident and the later history of the term raised worries that Google’s search algorithm could unintentionally support censorship.


Techopedia Explains Googlewashing

In an ironic twist of fate, the term Googlewash was Googlewashed when it was co-opted to refer to other sites copying original content and then ranking higher than said original content. Shortly after, however, Googlewash was set adrift again through the shifting tide of meaning before being fixed as a synonym for Google bombing. Admittedly, this is a somewhat humorous tale of meaning in the Internet age, but it does have some troubling undertones about the unintentional consequences of search.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…