The entries for the Church of Scientology of Plymouth and the Church of Scientology of Dublin presently state that these places are “Permanently closed”.
Is this the end for the Church of Scientology in the UK and the Republic of Ireland? Is it the beginning of the end for Scientology worldwide?
However, there is a hilarious story behind this mistake – it’s a tale of desperation and deceit, and offers activists an opportunity to seriously confuse the Church of Scientology worldwide.
Read more after the break
If you search for a business on Google, and it appears on Google Maps, a listing will appear at the right of the search results (image left).
This listing supplies information about the enterprise including:
- A map
- A link to their website
- The facility to upload reviews and Images
If you are the business owner, you can contact Google and (after a verification process), post a link to your website and a description of your business there. Scientology has claimed all of the Google listings for Church of Scientology locations.
However, it’s important to understand that these pages are still operated by Google, and invite visitors to post reviews and pictures over which the business owner has no control.
What Went Wrong for Scientology?
Someone in the UK who is campaigning against the opening of an Ideal Org in Plymouth uploaded a number of images to the local Church’s Google Maps listing. These included a picture of one of the placards he had displayed in a recent public meeting. It reads, “Scientology Slave Labour, Child Labour True or False?”
If you go to the site and click on it, Google will display the other images he uploaded, which were taken by the local press before the public meeting.
Encouraged by this success, he posted more images to other Scientology sites worldwide, expecting them to be taken down.
He didn’t realise that these sites are controlled by Google, and Scientology has no control over the reviews and images that the public post there. Consequently they were not removed.
This leads to an interesting conclusion
Anyone can Google ‘Scientology’, followed by the name of their local org.
If they find a Google Maps listing (like the ones on this page) they can post a review or an image there, which Scientology is powerless to remove.
It may even appear on the the ‘front page’.
How Did Scientologists React?
The presence of critical images and reviews seem to have embarrassed local Scientologists. It has also attracted the attention of head office, leading to disciplinary action for Plymouth staff. They have been ordered to remove the offending images. However, they cannot delete customer reviews or customer-submitted images – only Google can do this.
Consequently, the Churches of Scientology in Plymouth and Dublin seem to taken the extreme measure of telling Google that their businesses have closed, apparently hoping that the entire listing would be taken down.
Unfortunately for them, Google has taken them at their word, and added the words ‘Permanently Closed’ in a prominent place on their listings. What’s more, the listings (including the offending images) are still available.
The poor Scientologists who made this blunder are likely to be in even more trouble, now.
The Moral of This Story is…
The Churches of Scientology in Plymouth and Dublin have not closed. What’s happened is that, in an attempt to suppress public criticism, they have shot themselves in the foot.
- They have given the public the impression that they have closed – a calamity for any business
- They will have great difficulty regaining control over a site that they have told Google is no longer trading
- The images are still there
This is what happens when you try to suppress information by way of deceit.
If any readers check the listing for their local org (Just enter ‘Scientology’ and the place name into Google Search) and observe any interesting developments, please tell me about it via the comments section or email.