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Why’s Google Just Checking Some Sites?

From uncurious Associated Press:

Erroneous Warnings Produced By Google

Sunday, February 1, 2009

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Jan. 31 — Computer users doing Google searches during a nearly one-hour period Saturday were greeted with disturbing but erroneous messages that every site turned up in the results might be harmful.

The company blamed the mistake on human error and apologized for any inconvenience caused to users and site owners whose pages were incorrectly labeled.

The glitch occurred between 9:30 a.m. and 10:25 a.m. EST, Google said in an explanation on its company blog. Anyone who did a Google search during that time probably saw the message "This site may harm your computer" accompanying every search result, the company said.

Google said it routinely flags any search results with that message if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously, a practice aimed at protecting its users. Google said it maintains a list of suspicious sites based on criteria developed with StopBadware.org, a nonprofit project headed by legal scholars at Harvard and Oxford universities who research consumer complaints.

Saturday’s error happened when the latest update to the list was received from StopBadware but was checked in such a way that the warning would apply to all URLs, the company said in a statement.

The errors began appearing at 9:27 a.m. EST and disappeared no later than 10:25 a.m. EST, with the duration for any particular user approximately 40 minutes, Google said.

"We will carefully investigate this incident and put more robust file checks in to prevent it from happening again," said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, in the statement.

If you happened to use Google to search the internet yesterday morning, you may have experienced this.

Indeed, any Google of S&L returned the “malicious code” warning for every page of the site. As did searches we performed for images of George Obama.

But oddly enough not every website returned the warning. For instance, most of the mainstream media sites were not affected, at least from our experience.

Which, if true, makes these two paragraphs all the more troubling:

Google said it maintains a list of suspicious sites based on criteria developed with StopBadware.org, a nonprofit project headed by legal scholars at Harvard and Oxford universities who research consumer complaints.

Saturday’s error happened when the latest update to the list was received from StopBadware but was checked in such a way that the warning would apply to all URLs, the company said in a statement.

For it would seem that Sweetness & Light and Number 10 Downing Street are on the StopBadware.org’s watch list, but CNN (for instance) is not.

If so, why is that?

What exactly are the criteria being used to determine which sites should be monitored by Google and which not?

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, February 1st, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

18 Responses to “Why’s Google Just Checking Some Sites?”

  1. proreason says:

    24 hours after I first posted on S&L about Theresa Kerry’s taxes, the original source document in the WSJ could no longer be found with Google search, and it was virtually impossible to find anything related to the original WSJ piece except liberal msm articles that attempted to debunk the WSJ piece.

    The source article was written in 2004 and was available for 4 years online, yet the Google link to it disappeared within 24 hours after I wrote about it.

    Must have been one of those coincidences I talk about regularly.

  2. Kilmeny says:

    A few months ago, I remember there was a period of two weeks when searches for The American Spectator site were tagged with that message. Of course, there was no problem with the actual site itself, and never any explanation for it afterwards.

  3. Sir Corky says:

    Hmm… that’s kind of scary. I guess they’ll just do what they can until the Unfairness Doctrine gets put into effect.

  4. Confucius says:

    This is malicious website profiling. The DOJ should investigate Google.

  5. BelchSpeak says:

    I really don’t know why you would look for a conspiracy about this. The simplest explanation is the easiest- google integrates the stopbadware.org site’s known bad software list and sites that deliver malware. As a big mistake, Google tagged every site that ended in a “/” as bad. You can check out Google’s official explanation here:

    Unfortunately (and here’s the human error), the URL of ‘/’ was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and ‘/’ expands to all URLs

    I am no fanboy of Google, especially because of the way they help china censor the internet for its users. But this was a simple mistake, and no malice or censorship against rightwing blogs were intended.

    • Confucius says:

      I dunno. I smell a vast left-wing conspiracy. I bet it’s the Democrat Attack Machine Now (DAMN) at work.

  6. proreason says:

    The google boys are noted lefty nuts. Like most that achieve wealth beyond anybody’s dreams, they have turned into either Socialists, or more likely, have turned into aristocrats determined to solidify their position on top of the food chain. Competition, and people who support competition, formerly their friends, have now become their enemies.

    This is the common pattern. If you don’t believe it, review the ranks of the lefty money men and the tactics they use to preserve their wealth (i’m specifically thinking of a fine gentleman named Bill Gates).

    Based on Soros and his minions, nothing is beyond them.

    Maybe this incident is an innocent mistake, but the google boys are capable of far worse.

  7. U NO HOO says:

    I used to get warned about Sweetness & Light.

  8. jrmcdonald says:

    What exactly are the criteria? Whatever they say it is…

  9. pinandpuller says:

    I just use Dogpile.

  10. Goggling ‘Harvard or Oxford universities with malicious code warnings’ have not turned up anything, but I keep searching for that irony.

  11. Barbie says:

    I think it’s healthy and wise to be skeptical about the search engine’s monitoring activities and intentions. Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, is the Chief Technical Officer (I believe that’s the title) for Obama (he’s always on Fox tv, fawning all over the Messiah). The Dems are plotting the return of the Fairness Doctrine, anyone who would do that would have no trouble suppressing other free speech rights (BTW, who feels comfortable with emailing protests to their far left Dem senators or emailing a protest to the new White House admin?? Not I…) . True, this particular incident might not be related. Google – the internet privacy lads – had no problem with censorship in China (although they are sufficiently contrite now) And let’s not forget – Google’s motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil’ – well we all know that means don’t be conservative and don’t ‘write’ conservative. There’s probably a barrage of monitoring going on we do not know about. That’s my opinion and I think I’ve given some decent reasons to back it up. p.s. Honey, Rush is just the beginning…

    • JohnMG says:

      My wife and I had this discussion yesterday, Barbie. She feels that exacting retribution is easy when electronic backtracking is so easy to accomplish. My position is that it makes little difference what medium is used to convey (our) the message. Even snail-mail is subject to eavesdropping and then censorship. Dissenting opinions via that medium (even anonymous ones) are simply a matter of tracking and then isolating ZIP-codes, then address numbers by numerical grids, then identity via voter-registration records, then screening incoming mail for subject-content……face it. We have no privacy, nor are we protected from the prying eyes of an unscrupulous intrusive government. Our only real defense is in mutual support.

    • Colonel1961 says:

      As an adjunct to what JMG said: a good way to conduct your life is to know that anything you say in person, on the phone (land-line or cell); anything you type, any keystroke, on an e-mail, on a blog, is easily identifiable and can be monitored. There are no exceptions unless you have state-of-the-art encryption – and even then, I wouldn’t bet more than a few cents on that…

      Nothing to be paranoid about, per se, just know that our Government (and others) likes to listen and read and analyze.

    • Barbie says:

      Dear Colonel, I’ve always taken it for granted that the gov does indeed generally monitor everything – it doesn’t bother me. I’ve nothing to hide. But as Mr. and Mrs. JohnMG have pointed out, it could be used for retribution. I long ago stopped going to lib blogs and leaving my opinion. But I COULD just be a paranoid loon… Time and experience will tell :) If my next entry is from someplace down along Guantanamo way, well, you know why the Libs wanted it empty and how they will fill it up. HAH (just being facetious)

  12. sheehanjihad says:

    Our only real defense is in mutual support. Take solace in the fact that all over the country, small groups of like minded individuals are taking steps to be uh, “ready to meet the challenge” and will do so without having to communicate with other geographical areas and be subject to eavesdropping by the government.

    The beauty of the conservative base is that they can and will act on their own because the goal is the same with all of them. Instead of facing a herd of elephants which are essentially huge targets and easy to eliminate, the left is going to be tasked with trying to eliminate “driver ants”…and while they can step on hundreds, and even thousands, they will not be able to cope with millions….

    So while it is reasonably suspect that all of “us” are being monitored, especially those of us who flat dont give a damn due to well emplaced contingency plans, when they actually try to stifle this dissent….it will be likened to hitting a hornet’s nest with a stick. The great part about this is, “they” dont think it can happen. I hope they are as ignorant about this as they are about Iran and Islam. Everyone…every last one of these self absorbed loons will have to attone for their sedition….

    And the prevailing thought of the day will be echoing Madame La’ Farge’s famous solution to those who seek to rule by force….”off with their heads”. A Marine buddy of mine said it best….” I hope I live long enough to die for my country”. That dedication to regaining the freedoms that are being eroded is what separates “us” from “them”. They have no idea what will result once they wake the sleeping giant of the Real

    They will be lulled into a sense of complacency by their own hubris and self absorbed sense of entitlement. You can kill a man, but you can never kill his ideals. Wait and see!!

    (yeah, for those of you who are keeping track and tracking dissenters, you have me confused with someone who really gives a sh*t. Think about it. Lmao, you have no clue!)

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