Google Blocks Conservative Websites (Updated)

Rick Moran
The blocks appear to be temporary - more a nuisance than a threat. But this morning, websites for the Republican National Committee, Real Clear Politics, and Pajamas Media were all blocked with the caption:

Warning - visiting this web site may harm your computer!

If those three sites were affected, you can bet others were as well.

These incidents come on the heels of the news that Google moved quickly to spike a "Google Bomb" aimed at Obama while taking 3 years to stop similar bombs against Bush:

It took four years for Google to address the "Google bomb" that was lobbed at former President Bush.

But it took the Internet behemoth only a few days to defuse the same attack on President Obama.

Four years versus a few days ... Some Googlers are asking why.

In 2003, President Bush's detractors successfully gamed the Google search engine by arranging to have countless Web sites link the words "miserable failure" to Bush's official biography on the White House Web site.

The result was that when someone typed the search term "miserable failure" into the Google search box, Bush's bio rose to the top of the search results.

And that's how it stayed until 2007, when Google developed an algorithm to detect what became known as "Google bombs" and re-directed the term "miserable failure" to non-political pages.

The potential for this gigantic corporation to game the free flow of information to suit its own ideological ends is frightening. Everyone - liberals and conservatives - should be concerned when ideological attacks like this take place.

Can our friends on the left guarantee that Google won't be sold to some rabid conservative management in the future? Of course not, which is why they should join us now to protest this rank partisanship displayed by Google.

There is anecdotal evidence from others that the harassment of conservative sites doesn't end there. Sara, of the pro-Palin website Sarah for America reports in a comment on my site:

During the past election, I "invested" $1,000 into Google ad-words.  The game that Google plays is sickening.  I was told, at first, that my site sold "an unacceptable product" and my keywords were rejected. I sold no product at all, zilch.  It was simply pro-Sarah Palin.

I tried again after requesting info regarding the rejection. This time I was informed that the site was rejected because it made "personal attacks" on Obama. These supposedly personal attacks were videos of Obama and Michelle speaking - their own words.  I hadn't even added my own thoughts.

In the meantime, people who were searching for Sarah Palin were getting anti-Palin websites all dressed up as pro-Palin (until the reader got into the gist of the site.) Funny how that all worked out, complements of Mr. Google.

The enormous influence that Google has in the online world should worry everyone - as should their kow-towing to the Chinese and other thug regimes by cooperating in finding dissidents and blocking opposing points of view. I'm not sure what can be done except to keep a wary eye out for mischief and scream like a stuck pig when they cross the line. As big as they are, bad PR is something they don't want to have to deal with.

At the moment, that's all we have.

UPDATE

Apparently, the problem with the search engine was across the board. This, according to Google:

If you did a Google search between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST this morning, you likely saw that the message "This site may harm your computer" accompanied each and every search result. This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users.

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message "This site may harm your computer" if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs. Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. 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.

To all in the comments who are critical of me posting this item, perhaps you care to address the other points in the post about "Google bombs" and the other many, many, many, instances of conservative sites being harassed, put at a disadvantage, or otherwise gamed by Google.

What's that? Cat got your tongues?

Thought so.


The blocks appear to be temporary - more a nuisance than a threat. But this morning, websites for the Republican National Committee, Real Clear Politics, and Pajamas Media were all blocked with the caption:

Warning - visiting this web site may harm your computer!

If those three sites were affected, you can bet others were as well.

These incidents come on the heels of the news that Google moved quickly to spike a "Google Bomb" aimed at Obama while taking 3 years to stop similar bombs against Bush:

It took four years for Google to address the "Google bomb" that was lobbed at former President Bush.

But it took the Internet behemoth only a few days to defuse the same attack on President Obama.

Four years versus a few days ... Some Googlers are asking why.

In 2003, President Bush's detractors successfully gamed the Google search engine by arranging to have countless Web sites link the words "miserable failure" to Bush's official biography on the White House Web site.

The result was that when someone typed the search term "miserable failure" into the Google search box, Bush's bio rose to the top of the search results.

And that's how it stayed until 2007, when Google developed an algorithm to detect what became known as "Google bombs" and re-directed the term "miserable failure" to non-political pages.

The potential for this gigantic corporation to game the free flow of information to suit its own ideological ends is frightening. Everyone - liberals and conservatives - should be concerned when ideological attacks like this take place.

Can our friends on the left guarantee that Google won't be sold to some rabid conservative management in the future? Of course not, which is why they should join us now to protest this rank partisanship displayed by Google.

There is anecdotal evidence from others that the harassment of conservative sites doesn't end there. Sara, of the pro-Palin website Sarah for America reports in a comment on my site:

During the past election, I "invested" $1,000 into Google ad-words.  The game that Google plays is sickening.  I was told, at first, that my site sold "an unacceptable product" and my keywords were rejected. I sold no product at all, zilch.  It was simply pro-Sarah Palin.

I tried again after requesting info regarding the rejection. This time I was informed that the site was rejected because it made "personal attacks" on Obama. These supposedly personal attacks were videos of Obama and Michelle speaking - their own words.  I hadn't even added my own thoughts.

In the meantime, people who were searching for Sarah Palin were getting anti-Palin websites all dressed up as pro-Palin (until the reader got into the gist of the site.) Funny how that all worked out, complements of Mr. Google.

The enormous influence that Google has in the online world should worry everyone - as should their kow-towing to the Chinese and other thug regimes by cooperating in finding dissidents and blocking opposing points of view. I'm not sure what can be done except to keep a wary eye out for mischief and scream like a stuck pig when they cross the line. As big as they are, bad PR is something they don't want to have to deal with.

At the moment, that's all we have.

UPDATE

Apparently, the problem with the search engine was across the board. This, according to Google:

If you did a Google search between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST this morning, you likely saw that the message "This site may harm your computer" accompanied each and every search result. This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users.

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message "This site may harm your computer" if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs. Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. 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.

To all in the comments who are critical of me posting this item, perhaps you care to address the other points in the post about "Google bombs" and the other many, many, many, instances of conservative sites being harassed, put at a disadvantage, or otherwise gamed by Google.

What's that? Cat got your tongues?

Thought so.