Azara Blog: Google thinks that Google is harmful

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Date published: 2009/01/31

The BBC says:

Google's search service has been hit by technical problems, with users unable to access search results.

For a period on Saturday, all search results were flagged as potentially harmful, with users warned that the site "may harm your computer".

Users who clicked on their preferred search result were advised to pick another one.

Google attributed the fault to human error and said most users were affected for about 40 minutes.

"What happened? Very simply, human error," wrote Marissa Mayer, vice president, search products and user experience, on the Official Google Blog.

The internet search engine works with stopbadware.org to ascertain which sites install malicious software on people's computers and merit a warning.

Stopbadware.org investigates consumer complaints to decide which sites are dangerous.

The list of malevolent sites is regularly updated and handed to Google.

When Google updated the list on Saturday, it mistakenly flagged all sites as potentially dangerous.

"We will carefully investigate this incident and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again," Ms Mayer wrote.

What a lot of egg Google has on its face. This outage represents thousands and thousands of dollars in revenue for Google and the zillions of websites that use google ads. And it seems that some ISPs were requested by ordinary people, who took the google information at face value, to blacklist certain websites based on this false information. Hopefully that did not actually happen, but who knows.

What is particularly worrying about this massive screw up is that they might have just as easily blocked all websites in, say, Britain, or all websites for some minor ISP, and then how long would it have taken to fix the problem. Indeed, this whole sorry episode shows how much power stopbadware.org has. No doubt they are trying to do a decent job, but if they screw up (never mind if Google does) then what can any ordinary run-of-the-mill website do about it.

Google says its own websites are harmful

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