Controversy Abounds Over Meta-Data in Senator Hutchison's Website

By GLAAD |
July 31, 2009

senatorkay

As noted yesterday by the Cox News website, the Austin American Statesman, ElectionMall Technologies, a company hired by the campaign Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), was using hidden phrases in the source code of her webpage to drive traffic to her gubernatorial campaign site.

Putting hidden words and phrases in the source code, and as meta-data tags on a website, can cause the site to appear in searches for which it is not necessarily applicable. It is a controversial tactic and one that Google has said could jeopardize a website's standing within its search engine.

Among the more than 2,200 phrases embedded in the meta-data of Sen Hutchison's site was the phrase "Rick Perry Gay."  Some claim this could be an attempt to stir up rumors about her rival in order to turn off his supporters. A Hutchison spokesperson asserted that this was an automatically generated list based on popular search terms.  Mark Miner, spokesman for Republican Governor Rick Perry called it slander and added:

"Senator Hutchison should be ashamed and embarrassed."

In response to the controversy, Sen. Hutchison issued a statement:

"We did not know these offensive word associations were being searched for by hundreds of thousands of Texans everyday nor do we condone the computer-generated existence on our Web site."

As of today, all meta-data has been removed from Sen. Hutchison's site. However, some are still calling on her to clarify to what "offensive word" she was referring.

Issues: