Rick Santorum Sheds Sexual Google Bomb After Iowa Upset

 @ibtimes on January 04 2012 4:11 PM
Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum celebrated his Iowa showing with his wife, Karen, and his daughter Elizabeth, far left. But that's not the only thing he has to celebrate. Reuters

It's been a productive couple of weeks for Rick Santorum. He snagged endorsements from a pair of influential evangelical leaders in Iowa, saw his poll numbers shoot up from sixth place to third, outperformed those polls to finish in a virtual tie for first place -- and now he's finally managed to push Dan Savage's Spreading Santorum Web site out of the top spot in Google searches for his name.

The vocally anti-gay Santorum has been trying fruitlessly for eight years now to rid himself of Savage's sexually explicit Google-bomb. In 2010, Savage, the sex columnist and gay activist,  offered to take his Web site down if Santorum donated $5 million to Freedom to Marry, a group that supports same-sex marriage. Santorum, of course, refused. Then, last September, he asked Google to remove the offending pages from its search results. Google, of course, refused.

For those who have managed to avoid said search results, Savage launched a campaign in 2003 to turn Santorum's last name into a sexual neologism after Santorum, then a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, made a controversial remark comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality. He asked his readers to come up with definitions and then created a Web site for the winning one: an explicit reference to anal sex.

Savage's Google-bombing campaign made the Spreading Santorum Web site the first thing people saw when they searched for Rick Santorum. Soon, legitimate pages about Santorum -- his official Web site and his Wikipedia entry, for example -- were eclipsed not only by Savage's Web site but by a slew of articles about Savage's Web site. In fact, the Campaign for 'Santorum' Neologism Wikipedia page was listed above the Rick Santorum Wikipedia page.

No longer.

Now, the top two Google results for Santorum's full name are his official campaign Web site and his Wikipedia page, as is the case for every other Republican candidate. The Spreading Santorum site is the third result, but it is the only neologism-related result on the first page -- a big change from a few months ago, when the majority of the results on the first page were about Savage's prank.

But it's not all smooth sailing for Santorum as he tries to spread his message beyond the conservative terrain of Iowa. A Google search for his last name alone still shows Spreading Santorum as the first result.

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