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Google downgrades Sweden Democrats

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Google downgrades Sweden Democrats
08:44 CEST+02:00
The far-right Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna - SD) have almost disappeared from the Google search engine, as attacks from opponents and their own oversight have cut exposure just when they need it most - as an election beckons.

The party's website has previously been the first hit on Google for those searching for 'Sverigedemokraterna', but its official internet portal is now a long way down, far from the first page, and preceded by several sites that either mock or dissect their policy positions, specifically with regard to race and immigration issues.

The far-right party shares some of the responsibility for its internet predicament however, after a decision to switch to a more secure web host after an attack by hackers on April 16th. The party also began publishing its material on the sverigedemokraterna.se domain instead of the previous sverigedemokraterna.net address. The new name was regarded by the Google search engine as a completely new site, which resulted in a dramatically lower ranking in search results.

"They have acted in panic," said Nikke Lindqvist, an expert on search engine optimization, to the expressen.se news website.

The Sweden Democrats are hopeful that after about a week the new website will have crawled back out of its internet ranking isolation, but Nikke Lindqvist disagrees.

"I think they will be back sometime in mid-June," he says.

Anyone searching for the party name on Google.com now sees a website named sverigedemokraterna.de as one of the first hits, an SD-critical site, which has gained its lofty position through support from a broad base in the blog and greater online world.

"The purpose of this site is not to limit the Sweden Democrats' freedom of expression but rather to urge all democrats to counter the Sweden Democrats' arguments objectively using social media," the website declares.

A recent survey of social media by the Svenska Dagbladet daily showed that the Sweden Democrats dominated the rankings ahead of their larger political opponents. The survey showed that they had the second most active You Tube channel, the most fans on Facebook, and SD-friendly bloggers were among the most visited.

The newspaper explained that many of the bloggers had a large number of visits due to their tendency to name and shame suspected criminals, but this assertion was rejected by a party spokesperson.

Websites such as sverigedemokraterna.de are now urging opponents to organize to take back the internet's social forums and work to keep the party out of parliament.

The Sweden Democrats, founded in 1988, classifies itself as nationalist and polled 2.9 percent in the 2006 general election.

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