What Is Google’s MugShot Algorithm?

Does this sound Hebrew to you? Well, there is nothing new about it, if you happen to be a US citizen. Certain laws and regulations in Uncle Sam’s own country are rather queer and strange, even if they are supposed to be associated with public safety and security.  For instance, if you get arrested by the police, although you have not committed any offence, you are immediately photographed (MugShot) and your image with brief personal details get published on the web, causing you untold embarrassment. Mind you, in many cases, such arrests are made on frivolous grounds and the charges are eventually dropped. But the stigma of police record remains – for no fault of the victim.

However, there are people who take advantage of such situations by creating ‘MugShot Websites’, offering relief from such embarrassing situations, on payment of certain sums of money. What’s more, these sites often reach higher rank in search results. And then starts a chain reaction. Once a victim’s photograph is removed from one site on payment of a considerable sum of money, another one springs up on a different site. And this goes on and on, till the victim is psychologically ruined.

Now, Google has rightly come up with a new update, no; not another Penguin or Panda but one about the MugShot. With the help of this update, these MugShot websites will never be promoted to reach higher rank, no matter whether they apply all possible methods (white hat or black hat SEO techniques).

Nevertheless, Google had to endure immense opposition before launching this update. Here is a sample of how Google was persuaded for halting the launch of this update:

“Google’s very own credibility is at stake and has unfortunately been damaged. Instead of returning the best possible results on the search query based solely upon relevance without passion or prejudice, Google has now announced to the world that it is in the practice of adjusting its algorithm to return only those results that its officials find palatable. In the event Google continues with it algorithm change, it will be fascinating to see how the same news outlets that are so very hostile to websites that publish mugshots cover those stories where someone is victimized after performing a Google search on the perpetrator which came back with no criminal history but in fact has an extensive one. It will be equally interesting to watch how Google executives react to those inevitable stories. The law of large numbers tells us that this scenario is going to be occurring and quite frequently.”

However, when in February this year (2013) Jonathan Hochman wrote the story named Why Google should crack down harder on the Mugshot Extortion Racket, Google’s head of search spam, Mathew Matt Cutts fittingly replied that “It was a major spark…. for the reason Google began working on this algorithm.”

In any event, this update will not cause any fear among anyone, save and except those who extort money from helpless victims whose photographs have appeared arbitrarily on ill-famed websites, causing immense agony to them – no doubt a type of cyber crime.