Google Accused of Wrongly Identifying Websites as Dangerous
An education service center in southeast Kansas -- Greenbush -- has been called "harmful" and a "risk" to visit. However, those labels aren't being applied to the brick-and-mortar facility. Rather, they're in reference to Greenbush's website.
If you access Greenbush.org through Google, the site doesn't immediately come up. Instead, the following warning appears in its place:
"Warning -- visiting this web site may harm your computer!
You can learn more about harmful web content and how to protect your computer at StopBadware.org.
- Return to the previous page and pick another result. - Try another search to find what you're looking for.
Or you can continue to http://www.greenbush.org/ at your own risk."
But Greenbush is seeing red over Google's warning. Matt Blatchley, who works for the Kansas education company, wrote the following message on Google Groups:
(Note: Any misspellings and grammatical errors are the fault of the original writer.)
"After the winter holidays we came back to work at our education service center to find that Google had used stopbadware to ban our website www.greenbush.org
I want to know why? We have no bad software or installs or anything that would indicate a need to ban people from viewing our site. And upon trying to find the reason behind it, the site offered no help at all other than being vague about the how to 'create' a proper site. We've been waiting for three hours now with no response from Google or StopBadWare on this issue.
How did this happen? Anyone care to offer any explination as to how we even ended up getting to this point? After looking through the vast list of websites that have been implicated previously, I can can clearly tell that most of them are a porn site or some other category that an education service center wouldn't even show up as.....again why?
Anyone?" (Source: google.com)
"We understand that this may be an incredibly frustrating situation for you," StopBadware.org empathized. "However, we have found that Web site owners are often not aware that their sites contain or link to badware."
So, how does this happen?
According to StopBadware, there are a few possibilities:
- The site features advertising that links other pages containing malware.
- The website could've been hacked through a security exploit.
- The server the site rests on might've been hacked.
Greenbush -- and anyone else who feels that Google has misidentified a website -- can appeal to StopBadware by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. StopBadware promises to respond within 10 business days. (Source: pcworld.com)
But, as stated on StopBadware.org's Frequently Answered Questions section, the final decision is up to Google:
"Please note that, although Google's warning pages contain a link to the StopBadware.org site for more information, the decision to post a warning page is an independent product decision made by Google, not by StopBadware, and does not reflect any testing or review by us in advance. Also note that the URLs from the Google process that are sent to us by Google are posted on the StopBadware.org site without any review, research, or editing by us." (Source: stopbadware.org)
If the site is indeed free of "badware," Google will remove the warning from its search engine.
Because of the Greenbush situation, other people on the Internet are now worried that their site will be the next one to end up on Google's warning list.
"They [Google] are the king of the Internet," stated a representative of Kukars Infotech, an IT services firm in Rajasthan, India. "If they rank our Web site on top [of the warning list], then they can even humiliate us." (Source: pcworld.com)
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