This morning Google’s malware filter went berserk. This is a feature where if Google detects that a website hosts a malicious download, it will put a barrier between Google search results and that website. This barrier explains that this site has badware hosted on it, and that the user may want to choose a different website instead. Additionally the filter puts warnings in Google Webmaster Tools for webmasters to see.
Basically, whoever messed up at Google this morning, should be fired, because they just about broke the Internet. Someone did something so that EVERY site in Google’s index was listed as having malware (at least, every site I checked). So basically, Google’s search engine stopped functioning for a few hours. That, is news, and a big PR problem for Google.
What is more, Google just committed millions of counts of libel. Libel is spreading false defamatory information as fact to the public, damages being granted based upon lost revenue due to this defamation.
So Google defamed every website on the Internet by saying, falsely, that they contained malicious code, Google is seen as a reputable source, so any reasonable person would believe this assertion as fact. This is textbook libel. This directly cost every website on the Internet traffic and the resulting ad revenue and or ecommerce sales are easily measurable. If I ran a website that lost enough money because of this to justify a lawsuit I’d probably be calling a lawyer. Some large operations probably lost millions because of this error, I may have lost a few hundred. You never know, Google could have run interference on a customer wanting to place a big order on one of my ecommerce sites.
Google needs to be REALLY careful with things like this, and in this case they dropped the ball. I was always a little nervous about this filter, though in general I was in favor of it because it most often blocked all the low quality spam sites out there (that as often as not have stolen content from you and me). But I was nervous because of the potential for false positives, and never did I think that Google could mess up so badly as to make millions of false positives. Google needs to be more careful with such things, I would not be surprised if some lawyer follows my thinking and opens a class action lawsuit.