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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”.

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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.

 

Header image via original YouTube video of incident.

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