New York, NY—"This site may harm your computer." That was the chilling message with which internet users were greeted for nearly twenty minutes this morning when they searched Google.com [GOOG]. Widespread panic ensued.
Mediabistro.com were the first ones on the story. "Currently all searches on Google," wrote Glynnis MacNicol, a former waitress and now editor of Fishbowl NY, at 10:02, "appear with the warning message 'This site may harm your computer.'" Though MacNicol found only two mentions of the unfolding calamity on Google itself, she uncovered 15 Twitter messages of varying degrees of panic.
Meanwhile, Rachel Sklar, formerly of Huffington Post and also a former waitress, grew concerned that Ms. MacNicol's screen capture was not sufficiently large to be lisible. As a citizen journalist, Ms. Sklar was forced to repost the image on her Flickr account slightly larger, along with the results of her self-Googling. Back at Mediabistro.com, Ms. MacNicol had been busy posting updates. "A friend in the UK says Google is working fine there," she writes. Techcrunch, which had gotten wind of the scoop, had also found the situation to be self-rectifying. "It seems to fixing itself." Meanwhile Rachel Sklar's Flickr page had become inundated with photographs of web celebrity Rex Sorgatz posing with a puppy named Zuki. Was it malware? An impossible question to answer since, with Google flagging everything as malware, it was only the viewer's conscience that could judge. The presence of a puppy seemed to indicate Sklar's Flickr page was salutary however the presence of Sorgatz signaled more sinister intentions.
Back on the search engine, change was ocurring. "[I] just did a search at 10:28am and the problem appears to be fixed," wrote MacNicol with apparent relief. Techcrunch agreed and this reporter's own experience seemed to confirm the accounts coming across the transom. The crisis had ebbed. By 10:32am, a new dawn had come to a world once sinister and full of bad intention. Sites were safe again and sun shown clearly.