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‘Pepper spray’ university spent fortune trying to hide search results
American university UC Davis spent US$175 000 on trying to alter search results related to a controversial pepper-spray incident, only for the Streisand Effect to kick in.
Footage and images of a police officer pepper-spraying peaceful protesters made headlines around the world in 2011. Last week however, the Sacramento Bee reported that the university spent a fortune on trying to “scrub the internet” of “venomous rhetoric”.
UC Davis has responded to the report, denying that it tried to “scrub” the negative press from the internet.
“We recognise that it is not even possible to remove content from the internet, and that was not our intention,” the university said in a statement.
The institution confirmed that it used an SEO consultant to influence search rankings to “highlight the achievements of our students, faculty and staff”.
It also denied that taxpayer funds or tuition fees were used to pay for the services, saying that the money came out of the communications department budget.
The university’s efforts backfired spectacularly, as Twitter users relentlessly shared images of the incident.
.@ucdavis I’ll delete this tweet for $50,000 pic.twitter.com/xl6IDlHtAM
— andré (@carIisIe) April 15, 2016
UC Davis spent $175k to make the internet forget the pepper spray incident. Top search results for “UC Davis” today pic.twitter.com/0XRinWGOuy
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) April 14, 2016
Learn to internet, @ucdavis RT @YourAnonNews: @lindakatehi UC Davis #UCDavis pic.twitter.com/I0ZYsx72en
— Bryan Everitt (@b_c_m_e) April 18, 2016
.@ucdavis @BuzzFeed no time to read the list, did this make the top 7? pic.twitter.com/h7pbQeHakH
— freest one (@JamieFreestone) April 14, 2016
UC Davis spent $175,000 to bury this story of police brutality.
We’re writing about it so they fail. https://t.co/DoEk83kjK2
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) April 14, 2016
@ucdavis The harder you try to pretend it didn’t happen, the more we’ll remind you and the world it did.https://t.co/Hmyct1nXqT
— Voin’s Voice (@voins_voice) April 16, 2016
Header image via original YouTube video of incident.