October 2008 Archives

Why Doesn't Google Remove Malware Pages?

 
Google recently started pointing out pages with malware in their search results by placing "This site may harm your computer" next to such links and putting intermediary warning pages in between you and the sites.  

I'm all for reducing spam and malware from search results, but I just don't get this move.  Why not just remove the pages altogether?  In their post about it, Google explains why they can't give advance warning to webmasters:

But, look at the situation from the user's point of view. As a user, I'd be pretty annoyed if Google sent me to a site it knew was dangerous. Even a short delay would expose some users to that risk, and it doesn't seem justified. 

As any student of user behavior knows, users often ignore warnings.  By keeping the links and putting warnings next to them, you might give some users pause, but others will click right through and infect their computers.

In other words, their argument against webmaster early warnings seems to me to logically carry through to not including the links at all.  That is, it could be rewritten like this:

But, look at the situation from the user's point of view. As a user, I'd be pretty annoyed if Google sent me to a site it knew was dangerous. Even a short delay Keeping the link would expose some users to that risk, and it doesn't seem justified. 

Google must see a significant line between keeping the link with warnings and disabling it that I don't see.  Perhaps you see it their way.  If so, I'd be interested to know more...

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