It looks like there's a good chance that former Senator Rick Santorum is going to jump into the fray.
He appeared on Fox News Wednesday to discuss his plans with Greta Van Susteren, which at this point is only an announcement to make an announcement. RickSantorum.com asks you to "save your seat for a special announcement on May 27. The site is currently paid for by "Rick Santorum Presidential Testing the Waters".
Let's just say there a decent shot Santorum runs for the Republican nomination.
— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) May 6, 2015
And if he does, it's important to note that he still has a bit of a search problem – albeit a much smaller one than he's had in the past.
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First, a little background.
Years ago, Santorum drew the ire of popular blogger Dan Savage by making some unsavory comments regarding the gay community. During an interview where he stated the position that consenting adults have no expectation of privacy, Santorum equated homosexuality to bigamy and incest. He also made some comments relating homosexuality to bestiality, although he has maintained that the were taken out of context.
Either way, Savage and some other activists were less than pleased. They launched a campaign to redefine the definition of the word “Santorum.” Through SEO tactics and link-trading, they were able to push a website called SpreadingSantorum.com to the very top of the Google search results for “Rick Santorum.”
Over at SpreadingSantourm.com, you'll find a brown splatter graphic behind a definition that reads "santorum (n): 1. The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex."
Probably not what a Presidential hopeful wants showing up when people search his name.
In 2012, the last time Santorum ran a GOP primary race, SpreadingSantorum.com was the very 1st results fetched for searched of "Santorum" and the third result when you searched "Rick Santorum" on Google. It wasn't just a Google problem either, as both Bing and Yahoo showed similar results.
Rick Santorum isn't unaware of his "online reputation" issue. In 2011, he contacted Google and tried to convince the company to remove the result.
"I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it,” Santorum said. “If you’re a responsible business, you don’t let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country. To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle but I suspect that’s not true.”
Google's response was basically sorry, no dice. “[Google] does not remove content from out search results, except in very limited cases such as illegal content and violations of out webmaster guidelines.”
And Santorum remained frothy.
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Flash forward to 2015, and Santorum's problems have been mitigated but not erased.
A Google search for "Rick Santorum" shows no result for SpreadingSantorum on the first page. SpreadingSantorum doesn't even show up on a search for just "Santorum".
But the ghosts of the past are still present.
The top result (for a logged-out user) for "Santorum" is the Wikipedia page explaining the neologism campaign:
Scroll down a bit and a 2010 Mother Jones article called "Rick Santorum's Anal Sex Problem" is the 5th result below the news box.
On Bing, the Wikipedia page for the Santorum neologism is the first result below the news box and image box.
But it's over on Yahoo where Santorum still has a big problem. Here's what you see when you search "Rick Santorum":
SpreadingSantorum.com – preview definition and all – is the second result, directly below the one for his official site.
Santorum also has a small domain problem. He's locked up RickSantorum.com, which is lucky for him. But here's where Santorum.com redirects:
Of course, Santorum is far from the only candidate to have to domain problem. Ted Cruz didn’t lock up TedCruz.com, and now he’s getting trolled. Carly Fiorina didn't lock up CarlyFiorina.org, and now she's getting trolled. Rand Paul had to waste over $100,000 to secure RandPaul.com.
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If Rick Santorum does indeed announce intentions to seek his party's 2016 nomination, people will once again be searching his name
If he's lucky, they'll use Google.