Google Error

googmayharmSciencetext spotted the Google malfunction that occurred between 06:30 and 07:25 PST today. Every search was flagged as “This site may harm your computer”. I asked fellow twitter users whether they’d seen the problem, concerned that it may have been an issue on my machine alone. Apparently, everyone around the world was seeing the same problem, regardless of location or browser. Within minutes of my post, twitter was abuzz (actually it was already abuzz, but I kindled the flames a little to find out what was happening.

They’ve now fixed the issue which was not due to the site. That site scans web pages in the Google index for malicious code and provides Google with raw flagging data.

Apparently, Google inadvertently inserted a slash / somewhere in the latest data stream, which meant it suddenly flagged every URL on the web as malware (apart from Youtube oddly enough). They quickly fixed the problem, once the human error at Google was spotted. Quickly, as in less than an hour, although the problem was visible for a maximum of 40 minutes for any particular user because of the SERPs refresh cycle. was very quick to get its site back up and running as it had succumbed to a denial of service as all Google search results pointed to its page instead of the actual page people were hoping to visit and to blog its side of the story. Google’s blog, however, was much slower in providing an explanation

There are a few take home lessons for us all, here. First one is to not be sitting in front of a PC on a weekend and end up being sucked into blogging and tweeting about something trivial I’d not have even been aware of if I’d not used Google till Monday.

But, the biggest less is that Google is certainly not infallible. This is a rarity, ut what happens when another problem occurs that last longer, if they really do get seriously hacked or suffer a denial of service? Maybe a successor to the DownAdUp worm is crawling through the interwebs as we speak waiting to strike.

So, if you rely solely on this corporate entity in any way for your business model, then take heed: the next time Google fails, you may lose business for a lot longer than 40 minutes. Contingency and preparation.

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Photographer and musician.