The Google Who Cried "Malware"

CliffFigallo
Cliff Figallo Former senior editor for SMT, Now an Indie Consultant

Posted on January 15th 2013

The Google Who Cried "Malware"

We're a bit damn ticked off here at SocialMediaToday because we were mistakenly accused by Google of distributing malware. We distribute tons of good content and information, sure, but not malware. In fact, it was simply our used of a popular ad server that Google detected and threw up a blocking page saying Danger: Malware Ahead and including this lovely graphic. Users of Chrome and Firefox only, for some reason, were targeted.Image

No, there would be no malware ahead and Google should not be making such assumptions when there's the possibility that a perfectly legitimate suite of websites has fallen victim to software discrimination. 

We're not the only site injured by this: in fact there are many other victims who, like us, use the same ad server.

Because we have little recourse, this is our earnest effort to make things right with the thousands of visitors who may now be convinced that we are carriers of some awful digital plague. 

Hopefully this reaches some conscious person at Google who would at least tone down the scary rhetoric in their blockage page and provide for the possibility that the sites accused may simply be having technical problems.

Maybe that burgler is actually Google sneaking away with our pageviews.

This is far from saying that Google is evil, at least in this context. But maybe they need to be more considerate of their minions while trying to be the big cop.

All we can hope at this point is that our service is available again and we can win back the trust lost by way of this blacklisting action. This story is not over, not by a long shot. This is about proper governance on the Web.

CliffFigallo

Cliff Figallo

Former senior editor for SMT, Now an Indie Consultant

Former SMT Senior Editor, currently a social media analyst/consultant. Now find me here as username Cliff Figallo.The quintessential online communities and social media veteran and expert. Founding director of The WELL, author of Hosting Web Communities ('98) and Building the Knowledge Management Network ('02). 

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Comments

sociallygold
Posted on January 15th 2013 at 9:20PM

I felt that's effects of this today! 

protel
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 3:14AM

Well Cliff, I can feel the injustice - but let's just zoom out a bit here, shall we?

Let's agree there really are sites out there that try to steal data/hoodwink unsuspecting surfers.

Let's also agree that it is kinda cool if a search engine can prevent/warn a visit to such a site.

Obviously, you have been a victim of "friendly fire" - and as these protection  measures are based on an algorithm - and not on *thinking* human judgement - this can happen.

It's like being vaccinated for a disease you may never get: it hurts, you get a bit sick and moan - and then wonder why you bother.  Well, if NOBODY bothered (with the vaccinations) the risk of contracting the disease INCREASES for society/local community.  That's the real reason we do it.

So take a cube of sugar for the pain (remember that?) and see the bigger picture - and try to be brave about not taking it to heart.


I'd contact the adserver site to get their version of events, and try to get an undertaking to improve/whitelist their code at that level.  Don't blame Google.

BTW, I am a programmer, and I would much rather rely on an algorithm to check for malware than to conduct the test myself.  It would take me hours of concentrated, professional work - that I don't think I could *justify* when I look at my pay rate. 

Just sayin'

Jeremy

 

emoderation
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 4:39AM

That was rough - thanks to our inbound links to SMT, the eModeration website was also served malware notices on Chrome and Google. All clear now, but caused a bit of running around :(  Thanks for keeping us updated here and on your FB page Cliff.

Kent Ong
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 4:46AM

Hi Cliff, sometimes bad things do happen to good people. As long as we are quick to solve the problems, it should be ok. :)

 

LPOBryan
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 8:00AM

My Firewall/Anti Virus software - BullGuard - is telling me you are a Malware site now!

Good luck with fixing this. You are the best social media news site.

 

Stephanie Winans
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 8:37AM

Cliff,


The same thing happened to me two weeks ago. I was so frustrated! Hoping you get it resolved as painlessly as possible.

CliffFigallo
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 10:13AM

Hi, Jeremy

I totally agree that we need to have such security measures automated. I also believe that Google should be held to account for the mistakes due to their automation. We rely on Google for services that have become crucial to search, as do all websites at this point. I even own a Chromebook! But there can be a cost to this dependence.

In any case, we're small potatoes compared to some of the other sites that were impacted yesterday and the noise they're making dwarfs our level of complaint. We would at least request that the malware warning allow for other non-criminal causes for a blockage. And lose the burgler, for cripes sake.

RainMakerMaker
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 12:52PM

Hey SMT!

Because I have links to you on my site, Google also accused me of being evil. Thanks for fixing this. OK, back to business.

DawnNorris
Posted on January 16th 2013 at 1:50PM

I was so upset yesterday when I got your error message.  Glad it was fixed.  I figured it was just something goofy and I would be able to log in today and see the wonderful content that you post!