Human Error Behind Google’s Search Fail

February 1, 2009

My wife and I experienced this yesterday. Searching for our local Odeon cinema threw up a “This site may harm your computer” warning in Google and blocked access:

Human Error Causes Google’s ‘Epic Fail’ – ReadWriteWeb

Okay, I thought, that’s a little weird. To access the website we had to type it into the Firefox address bar. A few minutes later, Jen was searching for the UK’s Foreign Office website to check travel advice. When fco.gov.uk is flagged as potentially harmful on Google then there’s something wrong at the big G’s end of the internet!

Still, at least they nobly admitted the error (the accidental insertion of “/” in their list of blacklisted sites, a character which is of course included in the URL of every website known to man) rather than trying to cover it up.

Since it only lasted about an hour, I doubt it’ll have any lasting effects on the use of Google as the premier search engine. Although maybe it will have opened some people’s eyes to the world of alternative search engines. Just like everything involving computers, it’s always worth having a backup.

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