Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Your Tax Dollars at Work: Feds pay Google for dud drug hits?

This is something I may post in several places. It's about politics. It's about America's screwed-up health care. It's about technology. Our beloved federal government is apparently bidding on Google with your tax dollars. The goal? Top the results from searches for certain drugs, like Valium, in order to warn taxpayers that buying such drugs without a prescription could land them in jail.

Check out this screen shot from earlier today. The DEA is sponsoring one result, the US Customs has paid for the other (unless Google is donating these spots, which I doubt very much).

These agencies seem to be bidding for the top spots in several searches, including Xanax, Oxycontin, "pain killers." Does anyone else besides me think this is a just a bit weird. There are many reasons why people search for information about certain drugs. Is it a good use of taxpayer money to pay to deliver this message as a result?

One thing is for sure, the US Customs office is flat out wasting money with all its ads. Why? Because all the ones I clicked led to a 'page not found' message like this:
In other words, every time someone clicks one of those listings paid for by Customs, they get an error. And speaking of clicking...do you think those agencies realize anyone with a grudge against them can sit and click those things all day to run up their Google bill?

I'd sure love to hear from anyone who has inside information on these programs.

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