Google Error Sends Warning Worldwide
Google’s Internet search service malfunctioned for nearly 55 minutes Saturday morning, upending users around the world with search results that carried false safety warnings and Web links that did not work.
The company acknowledged Saturday that all searches produced links with the same warning message: “This site may harm your computer.” Clicking on any of the links led to an error message stating that the desired site could not be reached.
“What happened?” Google explained in its blog. “Very simply, human error.”
Google said it periodically updates its list of sites suspected of carrying dangerous software that could harm computers, and that Saturday morning a Google employee mistyped a Web address for one such site, causing all sites to be flagged harmful.
There was some momentary tension when Google seemed to imply that the glitch was caused by StopBadware.org, the company that helps Google determine which sites are unsafe. Google later posted a statement that took the blame for the error.
“We have a good ongoing relationship with StopBadware.org,” a Google spokesman, Gabriel Stricker, said in a telephone interview. “In our post, we tried to clarify our role in this error.”
Google is not known for glitches, but there have been other recent ones. Google Maps had a software glitch last month that sent drivers trying to get to different points within Staten Island, specifically zip codes 10302 and 10308, on a 176-mile detour to Schenectady instead.
The glitches in Google Maps and Google search were unrelated, Mr. Stricker said. As for Saturday’s search engine failure, he added: “Our Web search is extremely reliable, and that’s why when an interruption occurs, even if it’s for a matter of minutes, for a Saturday morning, people notice it.”