UC Davis Spent $175,000 Trying to Hide This from You. Don’t Let Them


By Jake Anderson at theantimedia.org


One of the most widely used forms of information suppression is legal and online. It’s known as negative SEO (search engine optimization), and companies use it to bury negative publicity. The most recent and glaring example of this technique can be seen in efforts by UC Davis to conceal search results related to theinfamous brutal pepper spraying of protesting students at the University of California campus in 2011.

Evidently, UC Davis is upset the truth went viral — and spent $175,000 burying the thousands of negative stories that resulted from the incident. They hired a PR firm with the stated objective to “expedite the eradication of references to the pepper spraying incident in search results on Google for the university and the Chancellor.”

According to AJ+, the the firm “ran deep analytics on search term patterns.” They then saturated the web with positive stories, optimizing them to bury the negative stories.

As nefarious and outlandish as this sounds, it is actually standard practice. Search engine optimization is a multi-billion dollar industry that involves strategically using online content, social media, and website architecture to manipulate Google’s search algorithm. Companies hire ORM (online reputation management) agencies that use SEO tactics to boost the ranking of desired links on SERPs (search engine page results).

Link placement has been used to bury controversial or negative stories across a range of commercial enterprises. It is an entire industry of subterfuge —  a legal and ubiquitous form of information suppression that remains largely unseen by the public eye.

With examples like UC Davis’ information suppression, it is important to understand that while the Internet can be a democratizing tool for social enlightenment and grassroots activism, it is also prone to the same forms of oppression as the offline world. The same companies, organizations, and agencies who use money, cronyism and corruption to suppress the truth in real life use their vast wealth and corporatist connections to manipulate the flow of information online, as well.

The full complicity of Google in this widespread practice remains unclear. The search engine giant can claim this form of SEO is legal, which is true (even black-hat SEO is usually legal). They can also claim they are not the ones engaging in the suppression — that it’s independent firms who are gaming Google’s search algorithm. However, we already know of the collusion between Google and the federal government. Is it, perhaps, a bit naive to think there is not rampant collusion between billion dollar brands and the company that controls the vast majority of what we see online?

Now that news of UC Davis’ attempted suppression has gotten out, the pepper spray incident is receivingrenewed interest from the internet thanks to the “Streisand effect.” Do free speech a favor: help win the censorship battle with UC Davis by spreading this information around the internet.

This article (UC Davis Spent $175,000 Trying to Hide This from You. Don’t Let Them) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Jake Anderson andtheAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email[email protected].


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  1. This is very good information showing how news is suppressed and propaganda exploited. When this particular incident first happened I thought it was odd the students willing sat there while being sprayed so I looked for and watched the full video to get the entire story. When the school could not get the students to free the sidewalk the police were called. After the students also refused police orders to clear the sidewalk, they were given the option to disband or they would be pepper sprayed. They chose to stay put. So, in essence, they chose the pepper spray. Once the police were involved, the school should not bare any responsibility for what happened next. The police had been assigned the duty of removing the human chain of students from the sidewalk. Once the officers gave the ultimatum with the pepper spray as the consequence for continued disobedience, they had no choice but to keep their word. That being said, when the police have to use pepper spray (or other force) in situations that are not chaotic or life threatening, there is no excuse to not follow proper protocol. If said pepper spray is supposed to be sprayed at a minimum of 6 feet, the officer should be 6 feet away.

    In this particular incident if everyone would have just owned their participation it would have been over in in a few weeks instead of going on for years.

    I made an attempt to locate the full video before writing this comment and gave up after 10 minutes. Maybe if the school had not tried to suppress the information more people would have seen the full video. Apparently the $175,000 worked all too well.

    • It’s a very strange view you have rachel. Police are not under any obligation to carry their words out into action, and doing so just to not appear weak is not a good reason. The students were protesting and should never have been threatened with pain in the first place. The school should bare responsibility as it was on their campus, with their students and they called the police. What you are doing is justifying excessive harm as a solution to protest. Imagine if no one was allowed to protest because a higher power (Directly affected by the protest, with interests to stop the protest) could just call police. Now imagine a world where police didn’t have to adhere to questions of right and wrong just because they had a job to do. I know you are just providing facts, but you have done it in a way that defends the actions of everyone but the students.

    • These students were peacefully protesting as is their right given it their fucking money and their debt that funds the campus.

      No one with any sense would say they “chose” to be maced with riot mace from 3′ away.

      The officer should have been shit-canned, and the campus deserves all the bad publicity.

      Imagine if striking verizon or Carrier employees had the police called on them to mace them for protesting their own jobs.

      gtfo here you shill.

  2. Uhm this isn’t an Anonymous site. I mean it has the eye opening stories like Anonymous, but since when did we do ads, sell merchandise, do links for ‘popular, trending, non related articles’ from other sites? Wtf, yo?

  3. I don’t really care. They got what they asked for. There are too many protests anyway.A lot of are being paid to be there, and can’ really say why they are there.

  4. The problem is, no one jumped up and killed that fat asshole. The right of peaceful assembly is guaranteed in what used to be the constitution of the USA. It is past time for the 2nd American revolution.


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