The dog ate it!

This is incompetent public relations.  It is childish blame shifting.  Google slandered every single web site on the planet, and where do they place the responsibility?

… 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 push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion

On a non-profit supplier, a human, and a nameless process.  That is bull.  Google is a large complex mind bogglingly rich and powerful institution.  That institution needs to take and act responsibility.  Distracting the public by attempts to shift the blame is dishonorable and unprofessional.  Now institutions don’t have honor.  I hope the PR department and the Vice President who signed that posting can do better.

I have a rule of thumb about what to do in a crisis.  Fight the fire, but do not every do the postmortem during the fire fighting.  After it’s over it is best if you can get somebody uninvolved to do the diagnosis and block out the lessons learned.  For example there is no way that the Vice President who signed the blog posting is likely to fully block out what’s so wrong with it.  It is unlikely that the people on either side of the vendor relationship were the bit-o-data was handed off that triggered the fire are likely to avoid finger pointing; which is frankly a stupid waste of breadth.  This single sentence: “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.” suggests a huge amount of work is going to be required to preempt this kind of foul up in the future.”

None of that will happen if the firm embraces the dodge of blaming human error, low quality supplier, and blind process.  Good PR is not excuse making.  Google needs to wake up the fact that people are now afraid of them.  Cute dog ate my homework dodges don’t cut it.  People need to see both transparency and professionalism.

2 thoughts on “The dog ate it!

  1. luis

    It is even worse than that, Ben; in the first version of that post they said ‘stopbadware gave us a bad list’, which is just a complete lie since stopbadware doesn’t give google a list at all. Oops. At least they fixed that…

  2. David Spira

    I couldn’t have said it better. It is poor PR and extremely opaque.

    I feel like there is a new Google scandal/ screwup every couple of days, and their PR mechanisms are clearly not up to dealing with any of them appropriately.

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