The company is purchasing terms such as “oil spill”, “Deepwater Horizon” and “Gulf of Mexico”, so that when a user types these words into the search engines, the results prominently feature a “sponsored link” to BP’s official page on its response to the spill.
Critics have described BP’s move as unethical. Maureen Mackey, a writer on the Fiscal Times, an online news site, said: “What it effectively does is that it bumps down other legitimate news and opinion pieces that are addressing the spill... and [BP are] paying big money for that.”
The criticism comes as President Obama expressed unease at the amount of money the company was spending to counter the negative attention the company has received following the oil spill.
BP has confirmed that its digital teams based in Houston and London, together with the company’s marketing executives, are currently engaged in buying search terms.
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