Google: ‘Human error’ caused search breakdown

For a period of time this morning, Google listed every site on the Internet as malware.

This malfunction has left millions of Google users around the globe confused when links to every search result were blocked with the warning ‘This site may harm your computer‘.

Well, the search engine apparently moved swiftly to fix the problem that was affecting the World Wide Web.

Here’s a screen capture of a Google search for ZDNet:

google malware

Marissa Mayer, Google vice president of search products & user experience, attributed the problem to “human error” in a blog posting.

If you did a Google search between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST this morning, you likely saw that the message “This site may harm your computer” accompanied each and every search result. This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users.

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 work with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to get our list of URLs. StopBadware carefully researches each consumer complaint to decide fairly whether that URL belongs on the list. Since each case needs to be individually researched, this list is maintained by humans, not algorithms.

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