Ed Driscoll

Interesting Coincidence

Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters writes:

NewsBusters reported in December that Internet behemoth Google had a disclaimer cautioning readers that the website of conservative magazine the American Spectator “may harm your computer.”

For some reason, this warning no longer exists.

This raises a couple of important questions:

Did the American Spectator do anything to its website that made it “safer?”

If not, did Google change its “harmful site” parameters, and, if so, why?

It raises another question–which Websites get stuck with this tag?

I noticed the same warning on the libertarian Tech Central Station Website (where I’ve been an off and on contributer since 2002), when I did a Google search to find Arnold Kling’s “Folk Marxism” meme last May. Here’s a screen capture from back then displaying that same “This site my harm your computer” warning above two separate TCS links.

After seeing that warning pop-up, I immediately sent the above screen capture to Nick Schulz, TCS’s editor and publisher to let him know. The warning that Google slapped on TCS quickly went away, presumably after Nick or one of his associates got in touch with Google. And as Noel writes above, Google removed their warning on the American Spectator’s site, again, presumably after a friendly email or twenty from the folks at AmSpec.

This could be something that one or two mischievous coders in the bowels of the Google cubicles are doing to goof off in-between World of Warcraft sessions. Or it could be some sort of virus or malware installed by someone not associated at all with Google, but designed to trigger Google’s warning mechanisms, and thus steer traffic away from non-PC sites that might engender thoughtcrime. But the fact that it’s hit at least two prominent libertarian, conservative, free-market, non-leftwing, whatever you want to call them sites is quite a remarkable coincidence, it seems.