Google Takes Big Action – Punishes Spammers in Chrome

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The browser will warn its users about bad sites for 30 days

In many ways the web browser community has the ability to regulate the internet—to be the arbiters of good behavior. Think about it, the average internet user can’t access anything on the internet without using a browser – Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge – which means those browsers have the ability to shape the direction of the web.

We’re already seeing it with the browsers’ concerted effort to make SSL encryption mandatory. Browsers have the ability to affect the well-being of any website, whether that’s by rewarding sites that have already encrypted with SEO ranking boosts, or by penalizing sites without SSL by withholding premium features or marking them not secure.

In much the same way, websites that run afoul of the browsers’ – or perhaps more precisely, the companies behind the browsers’ – rules and guidelines, run the risk of being penalized in ways that can completely destroy them.

Google Penalizing Recidivists

With that in mind, Google announced recently that it would begin penalizing websites that have repeatedly been caught spreading malware and spawning scam emails.

Google regularly flags sites that host malicious code or unwanted software. It also flags sites that perpetrate scams. When this happens you see warnings in the Chrome browsers when attempting to access those flagged sites. You’ve probably run across these warnings at some point, they’re impossible to miss—they advise you to turn back and not visit the site in question.

When a site is flagged, it has the opportunity to get in line with Google’s “Safe Browsing” guidelines, at which point the webmaster may request Google lift its sanctions.

Unfortunately, many webmasters take advantage of this opportunity. Not unlike that coworker who gets written up and suddenly starts conducting themselves up to standards, only to lapse back into their previous poor performance habits after the threat has passed—many sites would get back into Google’s good graces, only to revert back to their nefarious ways again.

Google Closes the Loophole

To combat this kind of conduct – websites getting clean to avoid Google’s penalties and then reverting back to spreading malware or scamming – Google has added a “Repeat Offender” violation to its “Safe Browsing” guidelines.

Moving forward, any site deemed a “Repeat Offender” will now have to wait 30 days until requesting Google re-check it. This means that a site will now face glaring browser warnings, in which Google recommends people not visit the site for at least 30 days before having the chance to fix the situation.

As you could probably imagine, having the most popular browser in the world label your site as “malicious” for an entire month is going to do severe damage. Google hopes these measures will help to deal a major blow to sites that spread malware or take part in fraudulent activity. And seeing as how Google is one of the leaders in the industry, other browsers are likely to follow suit in future updates.