Image by pt.
The above image must be the best screencap of what may be Google’s biggest mistake to date, or the most significant instance of Google breaking the web yet: a search for “Google” at 9:43 am EST returning the top result being Google itself considered harmful. Is it becoming self-aware, as pt suggests? According to the Official Google Blog, the result coming up for every single website on the Internet was “simply human error” and in the post, speaking for Google Marissa Mayer states that “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.”
But it also looks like it’s making things hard for webmasters to get their sites out of Google’s malware bucket, as seen in this post in Google’s Webmaster help, Question: PLEASE READ: Your site might not have malware where webmasters are being instructed on how they need to go in and try to get their sites un-malware labeled manually. No fun; I only discovered this neat fact via Twitter.
Ars Technia also has more coverage in Google broke the Internet: Malware detector went haywire.
This really raises some serious questions about the ownership of information distribution, doesn’t it?
Update 01.31.09 6:40PST:
In my inbox, Gmail has tagged Google emails as potentially malicious and untrustworthy. The conversation thread (a Google “vanity” alert) did not have that red warning banner on it this morning; when I got a new email from the sender an hour ago, the warning appeared.
To make a bad day for Google seem to get worse, I poked around the Official Google Blogs to see if there was any information about this and discovered that they had another, entirely different serious issue with Gmail today. The spam filters broke as well, sending some Gmail users’ legitimate mail into the spam folder. So do go check your spam folders, dear Gmail users… Something’s up with some sort of system-wide malware implementation — the Gmail spam folder issue happened at pretty much the same time as the search snafu — and perhaps it’s affecting more services than their search engine. This is not a fun day for Google.