Thursday, May 19, 2011

Take down notice due to a Google CSE

An update following the take down notice targeted at
Following is part of the Email I received this morning.

  "We are writing to inform you that we have received a complaint alleging that copyright infringement is taking place on your site
It appears that the website contains material being copied, reproduced, or otherwise displayed without the consent of the owner/copyright holder...

...In order to reactivate the site in question we will need you to provide the following information in a single email response:

  A. An electronic signature. (This can be a scanned copy of your
physical signature, or as simple as typing your full name.)
  B. Identification of the material in question.
  C. A statement, under penalty of perjury, that the material has
either been removed or promptly will be removed."

After advice, I responded by giving the required information.
Shortly afterwards the site was up and running and I again received another email from my hosting provider. That email said...

  "Thank you for your email. We have re-activated the services associated with your site.  Please keep in mind reactivations require some time to take full effect.

  The account will be reviewed within the next 72 hours to confirm the content in question has been removed, as indicated by your content removal statement. Please be sure to remove the content by that time to avoid additional action being taken."

It turns out the complaint to my hosting company came from a company acting on behalf of Microsoft.
They alleged that...

  "Microsoft has received information that the domain listed above, which appears to be on servers under your control, is offering unlicensed copies of, or is engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to copyrighted works published by Microsoft"

They provided my hosting company with three URL's from which allegedly contained the offending material.
These URL's were search results that the complainant themselves had generated by searching for specific terms.
I have again responded to my hosting provider just to add/clarify that...

  "Regarding the alleged content (links) contained on my site. Those links are generated via a Google custom search engine and are not actually contained on my site. If you do a search on, then check the source code of the results page, you will see that my site does not generate the links, Google does.

  I have added a filter to the custom search engine in question to try and remove the links that point to the three files that are hosted by (which I do not own). Please note that Mediafire themselves seem to have removed the files in question.

  However, as I have no control over what people upload to sites like Mediafire and I also have no control what URL's Google chooses to index and display in their search results, I cannot guarantee that a similar situation won't arise in the future.
All I can do is hope that instead of the complainants demanding sites like mine (that display Google's search results) be taken offline, the complainant instead contacts Google and gets the results removed from Google's index, which in turn also removes the results from any and all custom search engines on the web.

  I have raised my concerns about this situation with Google and have asked what steps I can take to prevent this occurring in the future, via Google's own "Custom search help" forum and are waiting for their official response.

The reason I am relaying this information here is that I am unsure how the review of my site will go. I hope common sense will prevail, but can't count on it.
So if the site goes back down in the next few days, you will understand why.

If anyone has any suggestions or information that could help, I'd really appreciate hearing it.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Google's Nexus One twitter account hacked?

@googlenexusone spams followers.

After several months without a tweet, the normally quiet, reserved, almost shy twitter account @googlenexusone decided to let one rip... and man, what a stinker.

Being a Nexus One owner, I was glad to see the account tweeting again and was eager to find out what goodies/updates/announcements were being unleashed on N1 owners.
Apart from a link, the only other clue to what the announcement was about was the tweet itself... "Hottest new diet". Strangely enough the first thing that came to mind was Gingerbread... Awesome! I thought as I proceeded to click on the link. I hesitated for a second when I noticed TinyURL was being used as the URL shortening service instead of Google's own "", that second was long enough for the destination URL to be exposed.
Even though "" did not sound like a domain Google would own, let alone use to promote something about the Nexus One, I thought to myself, "stranger things have happened" and clicked on the link.

Instead of being redirected to like I had expected, I was redirected to where a message was waiting that said...

URL Terminated

The TinyURL (3977rka) you visited was used by its creator in violation of our terms of use. TinyURL has a strict no abuse policy and we apologize for the intrusion this user has caused you. Such violations of our terms of use include:

    * Spam - Unsolicited Bulk E-mail
    * Fraud or Money Making scams
    * Malware
    * or any other use that is illegal.

If you received spam, please note that TinyURL did not send this spam and we do not operate any email lists. We can not remove you from spammer's database as we have no association with spammers, but instead we recommend you use spam filtering software.

Followers respond

Bummed, and still unsure whether TinyURL had got it right (False positive maybe?) I was also curious to see (if it was spam), what sort of spam @googlenexusone was tweeting.
So proceeding with caution, I armed myself with Rex Swain's HTTP Viewer to reveal what the page contained. (just in case it also contained malware).

It was revealed that is indeed spam.
Not only is it spam, its also a scam that makes false health claims about Acai Berries in an attempt to lure victims into paying astronomical prices for something that tastes like rubbish and is no better for you than half an orange. There is also the obligatory fake comments to back up the false claims...

So, was Google's Nexus One twitter account hacked?, or was it not theirs to begin with? I actually thought that it used to be a verified account, but doesn't seem to be now.


Seems as though whoever is in charge of the account has got it sorted (for now).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

dotCO domains - any potential?

I didn't jump on the .CO bandwagon and I'm not sure whether that's a good thing, or a bad thing.
I think I only got two of them, one was to redirect, and one because.. Um, I guess because just in case ;)
I do see some potential in the extension, as well as some negatives.

The negatives are, .CO is very similar to very popular .COM, so when someone sees a URL with a .CO extension, be it on a poster, sticker, newspaper ad etc, chances are they will just assume its a .COM! Even for those that notice, or see that the "M" is missing, I think a lot of them will assume that its a mistake.
These assumptions will eventually be corrected once the .CO extension is more widely known by the general public. Until then, it will be difficult to brand a new site in the .CO extension.

One of the ones I got was the .co version of my .com site which gets a lot of direct and type in traffic, so any typos will get redirected (I also have the .net .org .info etc).
I got the .co on the 28th of July and since then have had 140k direct visits to the .com site. I know a lot of these direct visits probably come via browser bookmarks, but some come from type ins. And if they type in the wrong extension, the redirects show up as referrers in Analytics.

So far I have had "142" visits redirected from the .NET, "14" from the .ORG and "1" from the .CO. That "1" was me checking that the redirect was working.
So I don't think .CO domains will get too much "typo" type in traffic.

The main benefits I can see with this extension is for SEO, because you have a better chance of getting your keyword domain in a new extension, and (if they take off) as an alternative to an unavailable .COM that's undeveloped but for sale (at an astronomical price) .
There are a lot of great .COM keyword domains out there that have not been developed, they just have a for sale sign on them. Often they remain for sale for a long time because the owners think they are worth more than the market is willing to pay (or they are holding on to them till the market catches up to their expectations).

Because the domain is undeveloped and basically just a for sale sign or sometimes a crappy niche directory, it gets no traffic and is therefore no competition. This is where the .CO has potential to shine, it can be built up, branded and rank in that niche without any competition from the .COM... providing the owner is an end user or is willing to brand and develop.

If it gets parked with a for sale sign on it as well, then it just becomes another wasted domain... unless of course the owner has realistic expectations about its worth.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Comment spam on Google owned blogs

I’ve been meaning to write a post about all the comment spam on official Google blogs for a while now, but kept putting it off.
Even though I am reminded (what seems like) a few times a week. One time I even tweeted Matt Cutts about it, but my tweet probably got lost in all the other tweets he gets.

Basically ever since I left a comment of my own on Google’s “Inside AdSense” blog posts on May 21 this year, and opted in to receive emails for follow up comments, I have been receiving an email which tells me what is said in every comment that has been left.
So far not one of them has been genuine, they have all been spam.

What is Google doing to combat the effects of comment spam?

Well having the URL’s nofollowed is great for Google’s index, as it does help keep spam out of Google’s search results, but that doesn't stop the ultimate affect of the spam being left on a trustworthy site.

I know the majority of people can tell the difference, but I wonder what percentage of people think that because Google have not removed it, that its somehow OK and/or may be legit? Then click on the links, visit the sites and purchase items from them.

That’s obviously what the spammers ultimate goal is, I mean they can see that the links are nofollowed by GoogleBot, so I don't think for a minute they are spamming Google blogs for "SEO" purposes.
They simply want clicks, and ultimately sales.

The longer the links are left high traffic, highly trusted sites, the more chance they have of people ending up on their site buying stuff, and if they see in their logs that Google are indeed sending them traffic, then that will just encourage them (with good reason) to keep spamming Google’s blogs.

So why don’t they remove it?

I know that as soon as I get a comment on this blog (which is a blogspot blog using my own domain), I get alerted via email, and if its spam I delete the comment straight away.
But to be fair, my blog gets very little traffic compared to Google's, and therefore doesn’t get many comments so it’s relatively easy to moderate.

Google on the other hand have a network of very popular blogs covering all sorts of topics and services they offer, which no doubt gets tons of traffic and a lot of comments.
So is it possible that they just can’t keep up with the moderation, that its too much work for them to constantly keep deleting spam comments?

My guess would be that they have a day set aside where they go through and clean up all the crap they have ignored/save up over the months.
The oldest spam comment on the “Inside AdSense” blog post I have been following is dated April 28 2010. So it’s obvious they don’t do it very often.

Do they clean it up every 3 months (will it disappear July 28?). If so then that gives the spammers 3 months to promote their crapware.
Wouldn’t it be better to enable moderation of all comments so they don’t get published to the site straight away! Then at their set intervals, they could go through and either except or decline comments that are waiting in queue.
At least then the spam does not get “promoted” on their site while they find the time to delete it.

Blogger does offer a few different ways to moderate comments within the program, but a few more would be handy.
Could adding a "Flag as spam" button help alert blog owners to spam comments? I guess that wouldn’t help blog networks like Google’s if they don’t have the time to go through and delete the comments anyway, but it may help others.
Something like Akismet for blogger would also be a great addition to help combat the problem.If something like that is available, why doesn't Google use it?
After all, they obviously do care about it, they have a massive team devoted to trying to keep it from showing up in their search results.

So why don’t they hire a few people full time to try and keep it from their own blogs which turn up in those search results?

UPDATE: August 14.
I just noticed a new message/banner when I logged into Blogger...
Blogger automatic spam detection
So it seems Google are doing something about comment spam on Blogger blogs after all.
Come to think of it, I can't recall getting any 'new comment' emails from the Google blog this week. I guess they must have enabled it on at least one of their blogs! Good on ya Google.