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Feds arrest man who juiced Google's 'just be evil' search

Comeuppance for foul-mouthed bully

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Federal authorities on Monday arrested a website operator accused of selling counterfeit eyeglasses who subjected customers to foul-mouthed tirades when they complained about the quality of the goods.

“GO FUCK YOURSELF COCKSUCKER ... I pee on your negative [comments]” Vitaly Borker, 34, of Brooklyn, New York, allegedly wrote in an October 27 email to one customer. He went on to claim he'd direct an assistant to “crush” the man's glasses and then “take the pieces of what is left of his glasses and use the label he sent to ship the powder back to him.”

Borker's brusque email-side manner was documented in late November by The New York Times, which claimed that the vast number of consumer complaints caused his DecorMyEyes.com website to boost sales thanks to the resulting boost in its Google ranking. In other words, the nastier he got, the more prominent his site became.

“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works,” Borker was quoted as telling The NYT. “No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”

Authorities who arrested Borker and searched his home allegedly found “several firearms and ammunition,” according to prosecutors. He has been charged with one count each of cyberstalking, making interstate threats, mail fraud and wire fraud. He is expected to be arraigned soon.

Google responded to the episode by announcing changes to its search algorithm that, in effect stops rewarding people for being evil. Google didn't disclose much about the fix other than to say engineers “developed an algorithmic solution which detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience."

A PDF of the criminal complaint charging Borker is here. ®

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