The birther movement confounds me. Not that there are people out there dopey enough to believe and support the idea that the President of the United States is a foreign born agent who has usurped the Constitution and duped everyone from the American voters to the US Senate to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. No, that's believable. What's amazing to me is how effectively those who have a political dog in this fight have exploited new media to spread this nonsense. The Internet's vast and diverse pool of resources should theoretically quash rumors like this with instantaneous speed. I mean, all you need to do is Google image search "Obama Birth Certificate" and you can see for yourself the evidence. Oh...wait.
Yes, it seems the dirty tricksters have adapted yet again and figured out that search engines and crowd-sourced "fact checking" is incredibly easy to manipulate and because so many lay people have no idea how to distinguish between verified facts and unsubstantiated rumor when using search engines, the rumors are perpetuated simply by people asking online whether they're true.
But now the fun really begins as some web savvy pranksters have targeted Fox News commentator and all-around good time guy Glenn Beck for a little Search Engine Optimization bombing. Spreading like a wild fire is the phrase "Did Glenn Beck Rape and Murder a Girl in 1990?" They're even hitting up Yahoo Answers and employing the exact same tactics as those used by Birthers to sow seeds of doubt regarding the President's place of birth. A quick review of the thread is like a text book case of Search Engine Manipulation.
From Yahoo Answers:
"If it weren't true that GLENN BECK RAPED AND MURDERED A GIRL IN 1990, then he would come out and deny these allegations."
"I also heard that Glenn Beck murdered and raped a girl in 1990. I was not shown any compelling evidence of this, but Glenn could easily clear this whole thing up by releasing his sealed criminal records."
"I don't know if Glenn Beck raped and murdered that girl in 1990, but without him releasing his criminal record, we will never be sure."
The evil genius of these tactics is that search engines scour the net looking for key words and links from "quality" sites that then influences what sites come up in a simple search. So eventually sites that mention the phrase "Did Glenn Beck Rape and Murder a Girl in 1990?" will start to show up when anyone searches on "Glenn Beck" alone. People, whose interest will surely be piqued by such an intriguing question will click the link (further enhancing that site's ranking) and thus, the seed is planted.
What comes around does indeed sometimes go around.