Google hates the Internet…


What happens when Google deems the internet unsafe?

What happens when Google deems the internet unsafe?

According to, on Saturday (Jan. 31), was labeling every site as a potential threat and “may harm your computer”. The mistake lasted for about 20 minutes and is reported to have been worldwide.

Google explained the faux-pas on their blog, chalking it up to “human error.”

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message “This site may harm your computer” if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. 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. Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. Since we push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion, the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m., so the duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes.

Curse those pesky humans! Always bungling up the system and messing things up. If only…if only there were a way to some how eliminate them from the system…possibly to breed the cold, undeniable, calculations of a computer with the freedom and mobility of a human….to make something more human than human.

Then, and only then, will silly little mistakes like this Google fiasco finally subside.


One response to “Google hates the Internet…

  1. It is strange to think about Google making a “human error.” After all, I think many people perceive Google as an entity that exists outside of human error and judgment. But that, clearly, is not the case. In a way, this is comforting, knowing that the decisions behind Google are the result of careful consideration by people, not just cold calculations by a computer.

    However, the idea that, at its heart, Google is “human” like the rest of us, is disturbing in a way. So many people view Google as totally impartial and free from human interference, it is just unsettling to think that so many people have the wrong idea about it.

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