Company uses flight MH17 crash to sell life insurance

Malaysia Airlines

The world is still in shock after the news that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 yesterday was shot down over Ukrainian airspace. Everyone onboard was killed, including some 27 Australian citizens.

Apparently someone thought that was a great opportunity to promote life insurances. The Australian life insurance company Lisa Group bought advertisements on the Google keywords “Malaysia Airlines” only a few hours after the flight crashed.

The ad copy on Google read “Is MH17 Malaysia Airlines tragedy a sign to consider life insurance?” according to Canberra Times. The ad linked to a promotion on the company site that said:

“”What a tragedy!” read a message that has since been removed.

“Up to 27 Australians were among 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet which was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of all on board.

“Is it another sign to consider life insurance? #PrayForMH17.”

The company said the promotion was a mistake made by an external partner and the ad was quickly removed.

Image via Wikimedia

Google displays incorrect dates from news sites

I first became aware of the fact that Google displays dates in the search results after reading a blog post (in Swedish) by Simon Sundén. He also described how Google sometimes misinterprets the date an article or blog post is published. For example, this article was published on Newsmill in February 2009, but Google thinks it was published in December 1999 (see screen shot at Sundén’s blog) because it has the date 18 Dec, 1999 in the headline.

But there may be more to this story. Today I found that Google was displaying search results with the date 27 May, 2010 on articles that were in some cases several years old. Here are a few examples from Swedish dailies online.

– Dagens Nyheter, 29 Oct, 2003 – “Aftonbladet driver populismens journalistik”

– Aftonbladet, 8 Feb, 2007 – “Här är Bloggsverige!”

– Aftonbladet, 7 Oct, 2008 – “Välstajlad profilbild avslöjar dig”

– Aftonbladet, 3 Dec, 2008 – “Moderaterna ense efter krismöte”

– Ålandstidningen, 9 Dec, 2009 – “Zandra lämnar Xit – blir nöjesreporter på Aftonbladet”

– Expressen, 10 Dec, 2009 – “Moderaterna backar i ny mätning”

But Google thinks all these articles were published yesterday, 27 May, 2010. A few screen shots below:




The immediate effect of this is that search results that aren’t very relevant to you may end up being ranked extremely high in the search results in Google. The article in Aftonbladet about my blog survey “Bloggsverige” is ranked #4 in Google on a search for Bloggsverige, when I know that previously it has not shown up in the top results.

It is also quite possible, as Simon Sundén also concludes, that it may be possible to game the system by fooling Google into thinking your blog post or article has been published more recently than it actually has.

I still haven’t quite sorted out exactly why Google misinterprets the dates of the articles listed above, but one thing is clear. All these articles have a more recent date in the code at one place or another, probably all of them have 28 May or 27 May 2010 somewhere. Once I or someone else figures this out, I will update this post. I would also like to know if this flaw is something that mostly benefits major news sites like the ones listed above.

Update:  James Royal-Lawson and I discussed this matter briefly on Twitter this evening and James posted his thoughts a few minutes ago. His conclusion is that Google takes the first date it finds, or at least the first date it finds reliable, and uses it to determine when the article has been pulblished. Since many online dailies have a number of different dates for different parts of each page, Google misinterprets the publication date. And if I look at for example the article in Dagens Nyheter above, from way back in 2003, that is exactly the case. The date 28 May, 2010 comes a few hundred lines of code before the actual publication date.

Update 2: Some more info here from Michael Gray.

Social media dominates Google search results for Brand Me

In February I blogged about taking control over Brand You online and especially in terms of how your name appears in a Google search. I concluded that my blog and other social media properties that I use ranked high in a search for “Hans Kullin” on Google. The top ten results for my name on in February were:

1. The “About me” page on this blog
2. This blog

3. Blog posts tagged with my name on
4. Blog posts tagged with my name on
5. Blog post at with my name in the headline
6. My profile page on
7. Blog post at with my name in the headline
8. My page at micro blog service
9. My page at micro blog service

10. Blog posts tagged with my name on

I was more or less in control of results number 1, 2, 6, 8 and 9, with Media Culpa claiming the two top spots.

A few weeks later, in March 2009, I launched a Swedish language blog called Sociala Medier (“Social Media” in Swedish) on a very good domain: In spite of being active less than a year, that blog (which is built on WordPress) is already among the very top results.

Top ten today are:

1. The “About me” page on this blog
2. This blog
3. My Swedish blog Sociala Medier
4. My page on Twitter
5. My profile page on
6. My page at micro blog service

7. Article about me in Dagens Media
8. Article about me in Resumé
9. Article about me in Medievärlden
10. Blog post at tagged with my name

I now “control” results 1-6, which is an improvement in only 11 months. My Twitter page has moved up to #4, while my Jaiku page is no longer among the top results. Back then, the first traditional media link was at #16, but now there are three in the top ten. It’s clear that blog posts and articles in online media that have my name in the title, tend to rank high.

Other social media properties that rank high are my FriendFeed page and the LinkedIn page, both in top 20, but there are still no links in the top 30 results to me on Facebook.

I wonder if there is an “easy” way to get hold of the remaining top ten spots without starting a third blog. Let’s see in 12 months what the status is.

Update: Results slightly adjusted.

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Twitter search vs. Google

A quick follow up note on my previous post on using Twitter for real-time search. Today the number one news story without doubt is the tragic death of the King of Pop – Michael Jackson. Nearly all major news outlets are reporting about his death and social media are buzzing like crazy about the icon. And once again we can see that Twitter is a much quicker search engine than Google Insights For Search which doesn’t display live results, only results for the last 7 days. See the difference below.

Top ten trending topics on Twitter this morning (9 AM CET):

Rip MJ
P Michael Jackson
Farrah Fawcett

Top ten search terms on Google the last 7 days:

2.leighton meester
3. wimbledon 2009
5. jon and kate
6. 儿子
7. us open
8. us open golf
9. perez hilton
10. aöf

Both tools are great for research on current trends in online behaviour, and they are of course not analyzing the same activities. One monitors search behaviour and the other monitors published key words. Either way, when it comes to finding out what happens right now, Twitter search is way quicker.

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DN builds FRA story on old Google quotes

Swedish blogs are buzzing about a controversial proposal that will allow wire-tapping by FRA, the National Defence Radio Establishment, of phone and email traffic that crosses Swedish borders. The Swedish Riksdag will vote on the proposal on June 18, so the law is a hot topic also in mainstream media. But I did not expect that it would be so hot that Dagens Nyheter would actually use a 12 month old story as their top story this morning. The headline in the printed paper is “IT company (or companies) in attack on new law” or “IT-bolag till attack mot ny lag” in Swedish. In the blurb below, readers are given the impression that Google just lashed out against the law, saying they won’t place any servers in Sweden, should the law become reality. But inside the paper we find that this is a quote by Peter Fleischer, Google’s spokesperson on integrity issues, made in an interview for InternetWorld in May 2007.

The second IT company to “go to attack” is TeliaSonera, which already back in June last year moved e-mail servers for their Finnish customers from Sweden to Finland in order to avoid wire-tapping. One would expect a lot more news value in the lead story in Sweden’s leading daily.

It was also interesting to see how DN used the quotes from InternetWorld, in Swedish below. DN has not used the quotes word-by-word, but instead re-arranged the quotes with different words (my bold).

IW: Vi har kontaktat svenska myndigheter för att ge vår syn på förslaget och vi har gjort det klart att vi aldrig kommer att placera några servrar innanför Sveriges gränser om förslaget går igenom.

DN: Vi har gjort klart för svenska myndigheter att vi aldrig tänker placera några Googleservrar inom Sveriges gränser om det här förslaget går igenom.

IW: Vi kan helt enkelt inte kompromissa med våra användares integritet och låta svenska myndigheter ta del av data som kanske inte ens rör svensk aktivitet.

DN: Vi kan helt enkelt inte kompromettera våra användares integritet genom att ge svenska myndigheter tillgång till data som kanske inte ens har med svensk aktivitet att göra.

IW: Förslaget är sprunget ur en tradition inledd av Saudiarabien och Kina och hör helt enkelt inte hemma i en västerländsk demokrati.

DN: Det här förslaget liknar något som hittats på av Saudiarabien och Kina. Sådant bör helt enkelt inte ha någon plats i en västerländsk demokrati.

It is worth noting that quotes are also protected by copyright, according to professor Jan Rosén at Stockholm University, and that newspapers in the past have criticized each other for exaggerated or improper use of quotes.

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Jaiku page hits top ten in Google in less than a month

jaiku_logo I share my last name with 109 other people in Sweden, so it’s not very common. And although my blog, which has a decent page rank, is published on the domain, it is not ranked #1 in a Google search (it is #2 and has been for some time). The reason is probably that I have chosen not to name the blog after myself and instead call it Media Culpa. But what fascinated me when I made a vanity search on my name today was how fast my Jaiku page has climbed in the Google results. I have only been active on the micro blogging site Jaiku for less than a month and my page on Jaiku is already #6 on In fact, the top 100 results are full of different pointers to my presence on Jaiku and it beats my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles by miles. The first Twitter reference clocks in just shy of #90.

So what? Well, first of all it strikes me how much better Jaiku performs compared to Twitter, in SEO terms. The amateur analysis is that this is an effect of the way the URLs are designed. Google rates higher than since the former is considered a sub-domain (please correct me if this is not the case). There are probably other reasons too, of course (could there be a language parameter involved since I write in Swedish on Jaiku and in English on Twitter?).

My second thought is that it once again shows how well different forms of social media/user generated content ranks in search engines. Previously we have talked a lot about blogs and wikis in the search results, but we obviously have to look closely also at micro blogs. Social media monitoring is already complex and it evolves quickly. So companies that want to monitor their brands constantly need to tweak their monitoring tools. If they are listening at all, that is.

Footnote: Google owns Jaiku.

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